…uses Mingo’s fraudulent figures to submit Elections’ Report
…as APNU/AFC Commissioners boycott meeting, new meeting set for Monday
By Lakhram Bhagirat
In clear defiance of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chair’s orders, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield once again plucked numbers from the skies and submitted them as part of his final elections report. A move that flies in the face of the Commission after he was clearly directed to utilise the numbers emanating from the National Recount of the March 2 General and Regional Elections.
The recount numbers show that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) won the March 2 polls with 233,336 votes cast in its favour. The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) secured 217,920 votes. For the new parties, the numbers are as follows: A New and United Guyana – 2313; Change Guyana –1953; Liberty and Justice Party – 2657; People’s Republic Party – 889; The Citizenship Initiative – 680; The New Movement – 244; and the United Republican Party – 360. It showed that a total of 460,352 valid votes were cast.
However, when Lowenfield submitted his report on Saturday – after failing to do so on Friday, he utilised the numbers, not from the National Recount but rather those coming from the Returning Officers for the various Electoral Districts. Those numbers included the controversial declarations made for Electoral District Four (Demerara-Mahaica) by embattled RO Clairmont Mingo.
Mingo had inflated the APNU/AFC numbers by over 19,000 while deducting over 3000 votes from the PPP/C.
By submitting the report with clearly fraudulent numbers, Lowenfield essentially altered the will of the Guyanese electorate to reflect a win in favour of the APNU/AFC – the party he seemingly is in collusion with.
Lowenfield, attempting to justify the concocted numbers he submitted, explained that he is executing his constitutional functions pursuant to Article 177 (2) (b) by advising the Chair on the results to be declared.
“In this regard, I have prepared and submitted the results of the General and Regional Elections in accordance with my statutory and constitutional duties and all applicable laws,” he said in the preamble to his fraudulent report.
Based on the new report, the APNU/AFC garnered 236,777 votes while the PPP/C secured 229,330 votes. It also revealed the numbers for the smaller parties as follows: ANUG – 2275; CG –2026; LJP – 2569; PRP – 862; TCI – 680; TNM – 246; and the URP – 353. That showed that a total of 475,118 valid votes were cast.
Now, these numbers mean that the APNU/AFC won the elections and secured 33 seats in the National Assembly while the PPP/C got 31 and the joinder list of ANUG, LJP and TNM secured 1 seat to round off the 65 seats in the House.
The original declarations by the Returning Officers for the Districts, recount figures, Lowenfield’s report, and increase/decrease as per the Lowenfield report are outlined in the tables below:
Based on Lowenfield’s report submitted to GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh on Saturday, he deducted a total of 161 votes from the PPP/C and another 263 from the APNU/AFC. Ultimately, the CEO discarded 521 votes based on the results generated from the original declarations.
However, Justice Singh was pellucid in her instructions on July 9 and 10 as to which set of results Lowenfield should use.
She said in her letter on Thursday instructing him to present his report: “In accordance with this Section, and pursuant to Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution and Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act Cap 1:03, you are hereby requested to prepare and submit your report on the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections by 2 pm on 10th July 2020, using the valid votes counted in the National Recount as per Certificates of Recount generated therefrom.”
Lowenfield did not present his report on Friday, instead, he asked for clarity on the Chair’s instructions. She told him that her initial letter is pellucid and that he should follow the instructions as outlined. Nevertheless, Lowenfield did what he thought was best and steered away from the recount numbers and reverted to his own concocted figures.
Based on his numbers presented, one can conclude that Lowenfield conjured those numbers from thin air since they are not reflected in the original declaration nor the Caricom observed recount.
The National Recount figures show that 460,352 valid votes were cast and if this is to be compared with the numbers presented by Lowenfield then 14,766 votes just made their way into his report. Ironically, the APNU/AFC, after hearing of the CEO’s concocted report immediately began their campaign of calling for the swearing-in of the incumbent David Granger.
The APNU/AFC seemingly forgot their contention, all throughout the 33 days recount, that the March 2 elections were plagued by voter fraud. The party, through its agents, went on a fishing expedition – as described by the Caricom high-level team, to find persons whom they allege are either dead or were out of the jurisdiction on polling day.
The agents made wanton allegations without the submission of actual proof to support their claims. What they did was to gather some death certificates and cajoled Justice Singh into writing to the Police Commissioner, in his capacity of Chief Immigration Officer, to verify their claims of persons not being in the jurisdiction.
The Top Cop relented and provided the Commission with names they claim were out of the country but a number of those persons have since come forward to debunk the claims.
It is quite ironic that the APNU/AFC, after levelling all these baseless allegations in an effort to discredit the results of the elections, would call for Granger to be sworn in on the manipulated results emanating from the process.
Granger parades himself as the bastion of “honesty, decency and integrity” but has seeming closeted those qualities when he chose to completely ignore the blatant fraud perpetrated by both Lowenfield and Mingo. What may be an even bigger slap in his supporters’ faces is the fact that he continues to lead them down the path of disappointment by maintaining that the APNU/AFC won the elections and the PPP/C is trying to steal the victory.
This would mark the third strike on Lowenfield’s file if one was to chronicle his blatant disregard for Justice Singh and by extension the Commission’s advice.
Back in March, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said “it is clear that there are forces that do not want to see the votes recounted for whatever reason. Any Government which is sworn in without a credible and fully transparent vote count process would lack legitimacy”.
If one is to add two and two then the result would lead to Lowenfield since he seems to be the one stymieing the process.
Justice Singh had earlier instructed Lowenfield to submit his final report, utilising the numbers from the National Recount, on June 18. But June 18 came and Lowenfield did not submit his report. Instead, he sat in his office and awaited the arrival of Court Marshals to serve him with a Notice of Motion filed by APNU/AFC supporter Eslyn David.
Following the ruling in that Motion, Lowenfield on June 23 presented a report containing numbers which do not reflect those certified at the National Recount which was deemed credible by a high-profile team from Caricom. In fact, the manufactured figures included in Lowenfield’s then report did not even correspond with the numbers he had concocted in his first report to the Chairperson.
In the first report, Lowenfield claimed that the APNU/AFC won 125,010 votes while the PPP/C won 56,627 – disfranchising some 60 per cent of the electorate on mere allegations that their votes are “invalid”. Lowenfield’s June 23 report validates votes he would have previously invalidated; the CEO presented numbers that give the APNU/AFC coalition 171,825 votes while the PPP/C gained 166,343 votes.
How he arrived at those figures is unknown and he is yet to address this.
Once more, Lowenfield’s actions prove that he is bent on altering the elections results in the favour of the APNU/AFC.
At Saturday’s meeting where Lowenfield presented yet another fraudulent report, the APNU/AFC-appointed Commissioners – Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman – failed to turn up to discuss the contents. This caused the meeting to once again be suspended owing to the lack of a quorum.
Back in June, when Lowenfield was expected to submit his report, the very Commissioners, except Alexander, pulled the same stunt and failed to show up.
According to Article 226 of the Constitution, the quorum for a meeting of the Commission shall be the Chairman and not less than four members of the Commission – two each appointed by the President and the Opposition respectively.
“If at any stage of a duly summoned meeting, a quorum is not present due to the absence of members without good cause to be determined by the Chairman then the meeting is to be adjourned for two calendar days. If the meeting was to determine the declaration of the results of the presidency, and there is no quorum, then the meeting shall be adjourned to the next day. If at the adjourned meeting there is still no quorum then, the members then present, being not less than four members including the Chairman, shall be deemed to be a quorum and any decision made at any such adjourned meeting shall be valid and binding,” the Constitution states.
Despite this constitutional provision, Justice Singh has failed to act in accordance. Instead, she scheduled the next meeting for Monday, July 13.
It remains unclear if the Chair would accept the contents of Lowenfield’s report or write to him, for the fourth time, requesting that he act in conformity with her instructions.
There have been mounting calls for Lowenfield to be dismissed and according to Article 161A (1) of the Constitution: “The Elections Commission shall be responsible for the efficient functioning of the Secretariat of the Commission, which shall comprise the officers and employees of the Commission, and for the appointment of all the staff to the officers thereof inclusive of all temporary staff, recruited for the purposes of boundary demarcation, registration of persons and elections and shall have the power to remove and to exercise disciplinary control over such staff.”
It means that Lowenfield, like every other GECOM staff, is answerable to the Commission and the Chair is vested with the power to terminate their employment. It remains unclear as to why she is yet to heed calls and terminate Lowenfield’s employment since he has been in defiance of the Commission umpteen times.