“He who asserts must prove” – GECOM Chair says of claims of ‘anomalies’ during recount

GECOM Chairperson, Justice Claudette Singh at the national recount venue - the Arthur Chung Conference Centre
GECOM Chairperson, Justice Claudette Singh

The recount of ballots cast during the March 2, General and Regional Elections has been punctuated daily with allegations of votes being cast in the name of dead persons, or persons said to have migrated.

There have been numerous reported instances of ballots being unstamped or unclear, or even a party questioning legitimacy of its own votes; but a decision by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) in regard to how to treat with those allegations has in fact not been made, though the matter has been discussed at that level.

GECOM Chairperson, retired Justice Claudette Singh, in a public statement on Thursday, reaffirmed emphatically: “While I continue to monitor the trends based on the allegations in the Observation Reports, I am of the view that ‘he who asserts must prove’.”

Essentially, this is calling on those party agents making objections at the counting stations to “prove” that their claims are in fact valid.

Addressing the treatment of allegations being recorded in Observation Reports that accompany the Statement of Recount (SOR) for each ballot box, the GECOM Chair stated ardently, “When there are considerable deliberations and decisions at the Commission in relation to claims of anomalies, the outcome would be officially communicated to the political parties and other stakeholders, particularly the media.”

Addressing the matter of dead and migrated voters, PPP/C Executive Member Anil Nandlall on Thursday pointed out to media operatives that the allegations appear to be levelled in the PPP/C’s stronghold constituencies, when contrasted with the controversial results in Region Four.

Speaking with reporters on the sidelines of the recount exercise, Nandlall indicated that the exercise in part dealt with ballot boxes from South Georgetown, where “remarkably, we didn’t hear any allegation of dead voters voting, and migrated persons.”

He has since posited, “Wherever the PPP’s support is, the allegation is that dead and migrated people voted…in those areas alone.”

According to Nandlall, the allegations emanating from only PPP strongholds inherently imply that agents from the two parties, along with the Polling Officers, conspired in favour of the PPP in order to have those occurrences.

Contrasted against the counting exercise for the ballot boxes recounted in South Georgetown however, Nandlall outlined that those agents in those polling stations conducted themselves excellently, and performed their functions with distinction.

He surmised, “The story just doesn’t make sense. As they go along, they continue to make it up.”

The public discourse over the observations comes in wake of a confession by APNU+AFC tabulation agent Ganesh Mahipaul that the party did not, in fact, have any evidence to support its claims that persons allegedly out of the country voted on Election Day.