COVID-19 Task Force ‘approves’ 10 counting stations; ballot boxes to be sanitised before recount

Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Claudette Singh and other Commissioners and officials during an inspection of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.
Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Claudette Singh and other Commissioners and officials inspected the ACCC, where the recount is slated to take place, on Monday.

The Moses Nagamootoo-led Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) Task Force, has submitted its report to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), which includes a number of recommendations the electoral body would have to consider in moving forward as it relates to the elections recount.

Providing an update to members of the media today (Thursday), Public Relations Officer, Yolanda Warde, disclosed that GECOM was in receipt of some 14 recommendations in a report from the national task force.

Among the recommendations are the need for regular sanitisation of surfaces, guidelines for waste disposal and other COVID 19 preventative measures.

Asked whether the sanitisation efforts would also involve the ballot boxes  that are to be used in the recount, the GECOM PRO responded; “they haven’t spoken specifically to that, but given the recommendations in terms of the sanitisation of surfaces, I am sure that is part of our implementation plan.”

Warde explained, saying; “as the boxes enter into the room they will have some sort of protocol in terms of the sanitisation of those materials…”

Warde also disclosed that the Task Force has approved the use of the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC) for the recount to take place but has limited the number of persons allowed to take part in the process to no more than 132 for the counting of the 2339 ballot boxes.

The Task Force has recommended that the venue can accommodate 10 work stations; 8 will be able to accommodate a maximum of 14 persons while 2 will be able to accommodate a maximum of 10.

Former Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

Additionally, Warde told reporters there is no obligation for the persons taking part in the recount to be tested for COVID-19, as recommended in the report by the task force.

Asked to pronounce on the likely start date, Ward disclosed that the Commissioners are in the process of finalising a draft order to be gazetted. She noted however, that a likely start date for the recount of the elections would be influenced by the arrival date of the specially invited Caribbean Community (CARICOM) team.

She was however, unable to say whether the CARICOM team has received a copy of the recommendations from the Task Force.

The decision by the GECOM to have its elections recount operations be influenced by the Moses Nagamootoo-led COVID-19 Task Force has come in for stinging rebuke from various stakeholders with former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall saying; “in so far as the Task Force purports to regulate the work of the Commission, it is unlawful and unconstitutional.”