GECOM staff says she was forced to use spreadsheet to tabulate votes under Mingo’s orders

Alexandra Bowman

Assistant Registration Officer at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Alexandra Bowman, today told the ongoing Commission of Inquiry that during the tabulation of the Region Four votes after the March 2, 2020 Elections, she was instructed by a staff of embattled Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo to use a spreadsheet for the verification of the votes – something which she says was never done at previous elections she worked at.

Bowman testified that on March 4, 2020 she was instructed by Mingo’s Clerk, Michelle Miller, that she will not be calling out votes from the Statements of Poll (SoPs) but from spreadsheets instead.

“When it was my turn to [call out figures to verify the votes] I was instructed that we won’t be calling from the SOPs anymore, we’ll be calling from a spreadsheet,” she indicated.

According to the GECOM staff, Miller acted in place of Mingo during his absence.

Earlier on that day, Mingo had fallen ill and had to be escorted out of the Ashmin’s Building, which was being used as the Region Four Command Centre.

Bowman further told the CoI that she worked at previous elections before and never saw spreadsheets being used during the tabulation of the votes. She added that she could not say for sure that the numbers on the spreadsheet reflected those that were recorded on the SOPs.

“I was not able to compare them,” she indicated to the Commission.

According to Bowman, the spreadsheet was downloaded onto her flash drive by another GECOM staff, Enrique Livan, and handed to her to use on a laptop that was provided.

However, she further noted that soon after she started calling out the numbers on the spreadsheet, there were objections by PPP/C party agents, who were saying that the figures do not match the SOPs.

“There were just a lot of back and forth between [PPP/C and APNU/AFC party agents],” she stated.

The GECOM staff added that at no point did Miller or Livan, who were in the tabulation room, offered to re-check the figures on the spreadsheet to ascertain whether they were correctly recorded.

While she could not recall how many times there were objections raised on the differences with the figures, Bowman said there were several objections made. However, amidst those objections, she was instructed by Miller to “keep calling” the figures which she complied with.

“There was a lot of noise and I was seven-months pregnant at the time and I just wanted to get it over with… After the uproar in the tabulation room, I told them that I’m not feeling well because somebody pushed the table and hit my belly,” the GECOM staff recounted.

Following the interventions of the Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers, and the GECOM Chair, Ret’d Justice Claudette Singh, Bowman said she was given permission to leave due to her health condition and did not return to work until after her delivery.

She further related that several efforts were made to recover her personal flash drive that was used during the tabulation process but was told that she cannot get it as it is now “evidence”.

Meanwhile, Mingo’s Clerk, Michelle Miller, who is currently facing criminal charges in the courts along with Mingo and others, was summoned to appear before the COI today but opted to exercise her rights to remain silent. As a result, she was released by the Commission.