“Never seen a more transparent effort to alter the results of an election” – OAS Observer Mission

Head of the Electoral Observation Mission of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in Guyana, Bruce Golding says he has never seen such a “transparent effort to alter the results of an election” as he presented the Mission’s preliminary report on the March 02 General and Regional Elections in Guyana.

Golding, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, made the remark this morning during a live audio broadcast where he presented his team’s findings.

“I have never seen a more transparent effort to alter the results of an election…It takes an extraordinarily courageous mind to present fictitious numbers when such a sturdy paper trail exists,” Golding stated.

Some of the members of the European Union’s Elections Observer Mission chatting with head of the OAS mission, Bruce Golding on March 02.

He explained that upon the completion of voting on elections day, Statements of Poll (SOPs) are produced and presented to each party representatives. Those SOPs indicate how many votes are allotted to each political party for each polling station.

Golding explained, however, that the Returning Officer for Region Four, Clairmont Mingo significantly altered the votes recorded on the SOPs when he was declaring the results for that district – the largest electoral district in Guyana.

For example, in ballot box 4062, Golding pointed out that the SOP indicated 182 votes for the APNU/AFC coalition and 43 votes for the PPP/C.

“The Returning Officer reported those results as 292 votes for APNU/AFC and 32 for PPP/C,” Golding stated, noting that when that ballot box was recounted, the numbers were 182 for APNU/AFC and 43 for PPP/C, the exact figures that appeared on the SOPs.

Golding went on the give several examples of where such instances occurred, noting that for another ballot box, the SOPs indicated 15 votes for APNU/AFC and 276 votes for the PPP/C.

“The Returning Officer declared the results as 85 votes for APNU/AFC and 246 votes for the PPP/C,” Golding stated.

He noted too that when the ballot box was recounted, the votes allotted to each party was “exactly as appeared on the original SOPs.”

According to the Head of the EOM, elections were free, fair and transparent throughout the country for all electoral districts except District Four.

“The final tabulation of results in region four were marred by several issues, which regrettably, came to taint the overall process and have led to the protracted delay in the declaration of results,” Golding expressed.

He noted that principal among these issues “were the actions of the Returning Officer in abandoning the use of the SOPs in the presence of the authorised party representatives and to rely on instead of a spreadsheet of unknown origin which provided results that are significantly different than on the SOPs…”