National Recount: Ballot boxes to be shown before opening to ensure seals are intact

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A container truck transporting ballot boxes under heavy police guard from the GECOM headquarters to the Arthur Chung Convention Centre; where the recount is set to take place (Robin Singh photo)

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Tuesday morning began moving the boxes containing the votes cast in the March 2 polls, from its headquarters in Kingston, Georgetown, to the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC) at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara; where the national recount is slated to take place.

On Monday, GECOM officially published in the Official Gazette, the order for the national recount, and included in the order is the provision for the live streaming of the tabulation of votes as well as a broadcast of the count.

The Commission met on Monday where the final details, namely the live streaming aspect, were finalised.

According to the order, dated May 4, “the recount shall commence with the allocation of ten (10) workstations as follows: District 1 – two workstations; District 2 – two workstations; District 3 – three workstations and District 4 – three workstations. The recount for Districts 5 through 10 shall be conducted based on the completion of, and the workstations assigned to, Districts 1, 2 and 3.”

It went on to say that each workstation will be equipped with facilities to capture and broadcast a picture of the ballot box, depicting the state in which it is delivered to the workstation, and an audio feed of the recount process.

The order further states, “There shall be installed an audio-visual facility in the Tabulation Centre which shall broadcast live the entire tabulation process.” It stated that, on the arrival of the ballot box at the workstation, “it shall be first examined to ascertain that the seals are intact. The contents shall then be emptied, and the election materials examined. Notes shall be taken, and records made in accordance with the requirements of the Ballot Box Checklist.”

According to the order, any observation not catered for in the checklist provided shall be recorded on the Observations Report Form. “The Ballot Box Checklist shall be signed by the workstation supervisor. The Observations Report shall be signed by the supervisor of the workstation and representatives of each contesting party present. A copy of the completed Ballot Box Checklist and the Observations Report shall be given to party representatives.”

It stated that the result of the General and Regional Recount of each ballot box “shall be recorded as provided for on a Statement of Recount upon the completion of the recount of each box.”

The Statement of Recount will then be signed by the person conducting the recount and by the representative of each contesting party present, in the presence of the Caricom scrutinising team, representatives of political parties that contested the elections, international and local observers accredited by the Guyana Elections Commission, and advisors to the Guyana Elections Commission. “These documents shall be lodged with the Chief Election Officer and copies distributed to the signatories thereto, the Caricom scrutinising team and the Chairman and Commissioners.”

The tabulation of the Statements of Recount generated will be done at a central tabulation centre in the presence of the Caricom scrutinising team, representatives of political parties, international and local observers and advisors to the Guyana Elections Commission as follows: “The Statement of Recount shall be projected on a screen to be viewed by all persons present and the information shall be input into a matrix, which process could be viewed simultaneously by all persons present. Information from this tabulation shall be broadcast periodically.”

Speaking to media operatives moments after the meeting, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) nominated GECOM Commissioner, Sase Gunraj explained that while the tabulation process will be live-streamed, there are still arrangements to be put in place by the Secretariat in order to facilitate the order.