On Monday, a Canter truck loaded with copies of statements of poll (SoPs) and statements of recount (SoRs) from the March 2020 General and Regional Elections was parked outside of the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts. The documents will be used as evidence against People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Chairman Volda Lawrence; former Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, and APNU/AFC activist Carol Joseph, who are facing several charges of electoral fraud.
Also charged are GECOM clerks Denise Bob-Cummings and Michelle Miller; GECOM Elections Officer Shefern February, and Information Technology Officer Enrique Livan.
When the case continued on Monday before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, Special Prosecutor Dharshan Ramdhani, QC, handed over copies of the SoPs and SoRs to the accused persons.
They were also served with a copy of a video-recorded interview they had with the Police. The case is set to be called again on December 17 for report after which another date will be set for a case management conference (CMC).
At a previous hearing in August, Prosecutor Ramdhani had requested additional time to organise the documents, as some of the copies, according to him, were indecipherable.
Attorneys-at-Law Nigel Hughes, Ronald Daniels, and Konyo Sandiford are representing Mingo, Joseph, and Lawrence; while Senior Counsel John Jeremie, and Attorneys-at-Law Eusi Anderson and Latoya Roberts are appearing for the other four defendants.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack, SC, has hired a team of special prosecutors consisting of about six lawyers to prosecute the electoral fraud charges on behalf of the State.
Lawrence was slapped with two charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, while Joseph is charged jointly with Mingo for forgery. Moreover, Mingo is also facing four counts of misconduct in public office.
The GECOM clerks and IT and Elections Officers are also facing similar charges.
The seven accused persons have been released on cash bail pending the hearing and determination of their trial.
There are also charges against former Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield and former Deputy Chief Elections Officer Roxanne Myers. Lowenfield is facing three counts of forgery and three counts of misconduct in public office, while Myers is facing three counts of misconduct in public office.
The plethora of matters is currently before three Magistrates – the Chief Magistrate and Magistrates Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus and Leron Daly. Lowenfield’s election report claimed that the APNU/AFC coalition garnered 171,825 votes while the PPP/C gained 166,343 votes.
How he arrived at those figures is still unknown, since the certified results from the recount exercise supervised by GECOM and a high-level team from the Caribbean Community (Caricom) pellucidly showed that the PPP/C won with 233,336 votes while the coalition garnered 217,920.
The recount exercise also proved that Mingo heavily inflated the figures in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) – Guyana’s largest voting District – in favour of the then caretaker APNU/AFC regime.
In August, GECOM voted to terminate the employment contracts of Lowenfield, Myers, and Mingo. The firing of the officials was met with much satisfaction by the Government, which viewed it as a step in the right direction to restoring public confidence in GECOM as it gears up to hold Local Government Elections.