GECOM Chair seeks approval for two more workstations

GECOM PRO Yolanda Ward

Amid mounting calls from various stakeholders for the national recount of votes to be accelerated, Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (Rtd) Claudette Singh, will soon be writing the National COVID-19 Taskforce seeking approval for an additional two workstations.

This was disclosed by GECOM spokeswoman, Yolanda Ward, during a brief update to the media outside the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC); where the national recount of votes cast in the March 2, polls, is taking place.

“It is the intention of the Chairperson to write to the Taskforce force to seek their reconsideration for an additional two work stations,” Ward said.

The GECOM spokeswoman related that this correspondence will be dispatched “within the shortest possible time”.

In justifying the need to seek approval from the Taskforce, Ward said in as much as GECOM is an independent, constitutional body, it does not operate in isolation; and due to the present health crisis in the country, the electoral body must seek guidance from the “professionals”.

“We have to be conscious that we are dealing with a health situation; and we need to be sure that we do not put peoples’ lives at risk,” Ward cautioned.

At present there are twelve workstations operating; but this is still below what is needed to meet the proposed 25-day timeline.

Ward also related that the Commission met today following its engagement with a team from the Peoples Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C); where a range of measures was presented for the Commission’s consideration to accelerate the recount process.

During the meeting with the Commission today, the PPP restated its position that there is urgent need for additional counting stations to be set up to ensure the process is fast-tracked.

The PPP also urged GECOM to name a “definitive end-date” for the recount exercise. While indicating that it would be impossible to meet the proposed-25-day timeline due to the slow pace at which the recount is being carried out, the party indicated that it will support the Commission taking NOT more than one week outside of the proposed deadline, to complete the exercise.

The team also recommended that GECOM implements a “quota system” which would see each counting station being allocated a certain number of boxes, which they must complete before closing operations for the day.

In relation to GECOM making representation to the caretaker government to allow the international observers to return here for the recount, Ward told media operatives that it is not for GECOM to do any advocacy; adding; “it is outside the parameters of the Commission.”