GECOM agrees to more party agents scrutinising transport of results

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), in yet another last-minute decision, has opted to have an additional layer of scrutiny be put in place for the conveyance of statement of polls from polling stations.

Guyana Elections Commission Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh

The announcement was given by Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield on Friday following the signing of the Commission’s elections code of conduct at the entity’s High Street, Kingston Offices by party representatives.
Lowenfield intimated that unlike what had taken place in previous years, Deputy Returning Officers (DRO) transporting the results will now be doing so with additional party agents alongside them.
According to Lowenfield, the decision was taken at the level of the Commission during a meeting on Wednesday last, where it was agreed, “…that there should be another layer of agents”.

Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield

He said they will be specifically accompanying the DROs from their offices as they uplift the statement of polls and boxes from Polling Officers (PO).
According to Lowenfield, the Commission has agreed that there should be another layer of agents as they receive boxes and statements, adding that it is the returning officers who will ensure that the statements are distributed in a timely manner.
Further explaining the rationale behind the decision, Lowenfield said that in the Commission’s view, “as far as transparency goes, the Commission in its wisdom determined that every subset of our operations be monitored by party agents”.
Lowenfield noted, for example, the presence of agents at polling stations and that they are being provided with the list, provided with the folios, “provided with what we refer to as the strike-off list”.
He said too, party agents are also present for and participate in the counting of the ballots.
It was noted that the law stipulates that at the close of count at a particular polling station that the results be placed at a conspicuous location.
The Polling Officer, he noted, is also required by law to ensure that a statement of poll is prepared for the returning officer and for the CEO.
He observed that ordinarily, from that point, it would have been a movement by the DRO unaccompanied by any agent.
Lowenfield suggested that all the Commission is looking to do is to have that process also be observed and monitored by a party agent, as is the case with activities of the Commission throughout the day.
The CEO also used the occasion to assure that Commission is ready for the holding of the 2020 General and Regional Elections and that preparation is advanced for the commencement of polls on time.
According to Lowenfield, as of yesterday, the Polling Officers were counting off the boxes and contents of respective boxes and that these will be secured in areas where they are to be deployed in some instances today, “based on geography”.
The CEO reiterated that in the two days ahead of election, there will be movement across the spectrum since elections apparatus would in some cases have to be flown in early while at other locations boxes and other needed equipment would be deployed as early as 03:00h on Monday to the polling stations “to ensure we are there on time to commence voting”.