Since the manoeuvres by his Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo and underlings at the GECOM counting office, CEO of GECOM, Keith Lowenfield’s profile has inexorably moved from the sidelines of the scandalous attempt to rig the March 2 elections to its centre. He maintained a stubborn silence that gave implicit approval to the transgressive steps involving spreadsheets, flash drives, and eventually a soiled bedsheet under a tent at the GECOM HQ. The bed sheet was a fitting metaphor for all that had transpired to that point – a dirty cover for a fraudulent rigging exercise.
Lowenfield then gave explicit approval of what was to be confirmed in the subsequent recount process as a massive inflation of APNU/AFC’s votes and a reduction of the PPP’s by Mingo, to deliver a concocted “victory” for the former, when he incorporated Mingo’s numbers in his statutorily-mandated report to the GECOM Commission. The Granger-initiated National Recount exercise was duly conducted by Lowenfield’s Secretariat under a Gazetted order 60: 2020, under Article 162 of the Constitution, and Section 22 of the Elections Law (Amendment) Act.
Over the next 33 days, the recount results were summarised by “Statement of Recount” for each of the 2339 ballot boxes, and then further tabulated as “Certificates of Recount” for the ten Regions, to allocate the explicitly stated “valid” votes garnered by each of the participating political parties.
Lowenfield was now required to prepare his Report from these figures; which he did, showing the PPPC winning the elections by 15,416 votes. However, he embarked on his own explicit descent into fraud when, without any authorisation, he also gratuitously summarised the “observation reports” that collated APNU/AFC’s unsubstantiated claims of “irregularities”, such as deceased and migrated persons voting, and declared that the numbers did not meet the “standard of fair and credible elections”. This had been the contention of the APNU/AFC while the Chair had declared that such claims and objections were constitutionally mandated to be dealt with through an elections petition.
The GECOM Commission then deliberated on Lowenfield’s report; directed him to use the Recount numbers for his final Report, and submit it by a designated date and time when the Commission would be meeting. Lowenfield, however, never submitted the stipulated Report at the designated time, contending instead he had been served with a Notice of an action filed with the Court of Appeal to block the declaration of the elections.
A “Notice” by a Court, unlike an “order”, did not prevent Lowenfield from presenting his Report. The Chairwoman also genuflected to the notice, and did not demand the Report to proceed with the declaration.
The Court of Appeal, through a strained interpretation of Article 177 (4), assumed jurisdiction and took cognisance of the action that had been filed by an APNU/AFC supporter. However, among several orders sought, the CoA merely ruled that in determining the Art 177 (2) requirement, that a president is deemed elected when “more votes are cast” for a list, the standard should actually be “more valid votes cast”. However, even though the CoA placed a three-day stay of any further action on the matter, Lowenfield than unilaterally compiled a Report in which he moved from “more valid votes cast” to “more credible and valid votes” cast, to assert that APNU/AFC had won the elections, even though he invalidated the valid votes of 115,000 citizens who had exercised their franchise through his unilateral assessment of the APNU/AFC’s unsubstantiated claims.
The Opposition parties had immediately moved to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) following the CoA’s decision, where they questioned the latter’s arrogation of exclusive and final jurisdiction on the matter. The CCJ immediately announced through a notice – most pertinently, before Lowenfield’s assuming the powers of an elections court – that they were going to issue an order the following morning; yet, unlike his action on the CoA’s notice, Lowenfield went ahead with his Report.
It is clear that Lowenfield has gone rogue, and condign action must be taken by the Commission immediately.