Many have found themselves slightly confused over the difference between the two election processes and how they are fundamentally different.
For one, Local Government Elections (LGE) is called by the subject Minister (Communities Minister) and General or National Elections are called by the President.
What are the differences after polling takes place?
Party agents and private groups will be able to observe the removing of ballot boxes and place locks on the containers in which they are stored at both the National Elections and the LGE.
Chief Elections Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Keith Lowenfield, commenting on the process, said everything remained the same when it came to storing the ballots at GECOM. “When we go to open, we have to call all the agents with their locks on our container…”
“In the case of the LGE, the Returning Officer (RO) for the district is required to make a declaration of the results in his or her district. In the case of the General Elections, the 10 Returning Officers declare the results of the 10 districts and then I will make an overall declaration of the results of the elections. For LGE, those declarations are just as critical for information or for the outcome of the process at the level of the Returning Officer. So all the CEO will have to do is based on those declarations he will compile.”
“In the case of a tie, a lot will be drawn,” Lowenfield said. This can be done with the spinning of a coin to determine which group will have the option of leading first, as both groups if they would have won are required to share all benefits.
Lowenfield said all of the laws as it related to a recount would be adhered to in the event of a recount. “So whatever legal procedures a party wants to pursue can be done because it is fixated in the law on the conduction of elections… if there is a recount, the RO in his or her own judgment will facilitate the recount. The law prescribed for Local Elections that a declaration be made in five days. For General Elections, the law says GECOM has 15 days in which to make a declaration.”
He said it was the same methodology which was used at General Elections which would be applied in each community where voting will take place at the LGE.
Speaking of the Disciplined Services votes, Lowenfield noted that while there were no Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) or Municipalities in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), there will still be voting in that region. This, he said, will be done on D-Day when the Disciplined Services cast their ballots on March 8.
“Wherever the policemen are located, we have to get to their location for them to vote and then get that vote back to where they ordinarily reside,” he added.