The electoral fraud matters against two Opposition members and four Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) employees have been further adjourned until Tuesday, April 18 by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan, who presides at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
GECOM clerks, Denise Babb-Cummings and Michelle Miller; GECOM Elections Officer Shefern February; and the electoral body’s Information Technology Officer Enrique Livan along with Opposition members Volda Lawrence and Carol Smith-Joseph, were charged back in 2020, for attempting to rig the March 2020 election in favour of the APNU/AFC.
Particulars of the charge against them read that between March 2 and August 2, 2020, at Georgetown, they conspired with former GECOM Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield and former Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Officer (RO), Clairmont Mingo to defraud the electors of Guyana by declaring a false account of votes cast.
Miller, on the other hand, is charged separately with conspiracy to defraud. It is alleged that between March 3 and 5, 2020, at High and Hadfield Streets, Georgetown, together and with others, with intent to defraud the people of Guyana, she did not use the figures from the Statements of Poll (SoPs) for ascertaining the figures to make the declaration of the results for the said District Four, thereby resulting in a false declaration being made for the said District.
Each of the six defendants has pleaded not guilty and has been granted cash bail. More than half of the 32 electoral fraud charges are being dealt with by the Chief Magistrate, while Principal Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus and Senior Magistrate Leron Daly are dealing with the others.
Former CEO Lowenfield’s election report claimed that the APNU/AFC coalition garnered 171,825 votes while the PPP/C gained 166,343 votes.
How he arrived at those figures is still unknown, since the certified results from the recount exercise supervised by GECOM and a high-level team from the Caribbean Community (Caricom) pellucidly showed that the PPP/C won with 233,336 votes while the coalition garnered 217,920.
The recount exercise also proved that Mingo had heavily inflated the figures in Region Four—Guyana’s largest voting District, in favour of the then caretaker APNU/AFC regime.
In August 2021, GECOM voted to terminate Lowenfield, Roxanne Myers, and Mingo.
The firing of these officials was met with much satisfaction by the Government which hailed it as a step in the right direction to restoring public confidence in GECOM.
Myers, Mingo, and Lowenfield are also facing criminal charges related to their official duties at GECOM in the conduct of the 2020 national elections, for which they are on bail.
Last month, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, SC, during his weekly programme—Issues in the News—decried the “slow pace” at which the matters are moving.
In light of this, he indicated that he would write Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack, SC, for an update on the status of the prosecution of the cases.
Once the information is provided, he said it would be released to the public. The Attorney General believes that the cases are not being treated with the alacrity they require.
Although the charges were instituted by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) upon the advice of the DPP, Nandlall had said: “But it doesn’t mean that the Government will sit idly by and allow these charges to just fall away. We are equally important stakeholders in this society, as you are members of the public, you are equally interested in the outcome of these charges.”