The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) today reported that a delegation from the party, led by its General Secretary Mr Clement Rohee, met with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) under the chairmanship of Dr. Steve Surujbally to discuss several issues as it relate to the upcoming Local Government Elections..
The Rohee-led PPP delegation, which comprised Zulfikar Mustapha, Clinton Collymore, Neendkumar and Ganga Persaud, raised a number of issues as it relate, more specifically, to ‘scrutiny’ of the list of Disciplined Forces voters.
The PPP, in a statement, noted that Voters’ Lists for General and Regional elections are normally scrutinized in the preparatory stages. As such, it said the Disciplined Forces List is no exception and in order to build consensus, transparency and confidence among stakeholders, representatives of contesting parties must be provided the opportunity to scrutinize the lists prepared by the Ballot Officers to guarantee accuracy, currency and completeness.
The PPP said it raised the following issues with GECOM:
The party said it expressed its concern with the movement of all staff, supplies, equipment and sensitive materials to the designated polling places. It noted that information sharing is necessary on these matters in the interest of transparency.
With regard to safe storage and retrieval of all supplies, the PPP/C said it must be involved or at the least be provided with information for purposes of transparency.
The PPP said procedures for dealing with the particulars on the list of those who voted on D-Day, as well as those listed to vote on D-Day but who did not do so, must be provided to Ballot Officers and shared with Ballot Agents.
Verification of the Disciplined Forces Lists must be executed expeditiously and thoroughly in order to clean up the state of affairs, the party added.
- PROVISION OF BALLOT PAPER ACCOUNT
At the May 2015 elections, the PPP said 21 of its ballot agents were denied a copy of the ‘ballot paper account’ by the Ballot Attendant at the end of the Discipline Services balloting. A list of the Ballot Stations and Ballot Attendants involved in these incidents were sent to GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer Mr. Keith Lowenfield, by a PPP/C elections agent.
- USE OF NATIONAL ID CARDS
The PPP said in excess of 9% of the persons who voted during the Discipline Services Balloting in the May 2015 General and Regional elections voted without their National ID cards.
This is alarming and extremely worrying, especially at Tacama, where 165 persons out of 207 voted without National Identification Cards. The PPP stated that, when asked by GECOM’s staff, “Why they did not walk with their National ID cards”, the response was: “We were told not to walk with it”.
The PPP said similar situations were observed at other stations, at Camp Soweyo, 61 persons did likewise and gave the same response.
- INCORRECT ENVELOPES GIVEN
During the May 2015 elections, the PPP said there were at least four instances on the coastland where incorrect envelopes were given to voters. In one instance, the elector refused to take the incorrect envelope at the Leonora Police Station Ballot Station. The PPP said similar instances were noted at a few more Ballot Stations, including Brickdam Police Station where the Ballot Attendant was Anderson Shepard.
- ABUSE OF PRESENCE AT BALLOT STATIONS
More than one Agent was allowed from one Party at the Station during the May 2015 elections.At the Leonora Ballot Station, there were two representatives from the APNU/AFC at the Ballot Station for in excess of one hour. At other stations, more than one Candidate was appointed to visit the same Ballot Station.
- ROLE OF POLICE RANKS AT BALLOT STATIONS
The PPP said during the May 2015 elections, the Police ranks who accompanied the Ballot Boxes were seated in the building with the Ballot Attendant and Team in the Ballot Stations: It was observed that in several Ballot Stations in Region 4, the Police rank who accompanied the GECOM team was seated in the Polling Station and operated as a Ballot Staff rather than as a Police rank for the Ballot Station. This, apart from being against the operational procedures, was perceived as being intimidating to others, especially some of those who were voting.
- VOTING OUTSIDE A BALLOT STATION
A Ballot Officer for GPF took a Ballot Paper out of the Ballot Station to a vehicle to allow an Elector to mark the Ballot Paper which the Ballot Attendant subsequently placed in the Ballot Box. This is a serious breach of the voting procedures and strong action should be taken against this Officer. This Ballot Officer is back in the system.
- DISPLAYING OF PARTY PARAPHERNALIA AT BALLOT STATION
The PPP contends that during the May 2015 elections, opposition Ballot Agents were observed wearing Party paraphernalia stating ‘Vote APNU/AFC’ in the Ballot Station. The PPP/C said it documented several concerns identical to this issue in 2011 to GECOM and assurances were given that GECOM will deal with these issues. The PPP said it is unfortunate that this occurred again in 2015; for example, at Brickdam Police Station Canteen.
- PLACING OF SEAL ON BALLOT BOXES
PPP/C said its Ballot Agents were prevented from placing plastic seals on Ballot Boxes at the end of the poll on May 11, 2015. Similar to 2011, some of the Ballot Agents representing the PPP/C were prevented from placing the party seal on the Ballot Box at the close of poll. The PPP said GECOM did nothing then but made a commitment to correct this situation. This occurred, for example, at Leonora Ballot Station and Coast Guard Ballot Station, among others. The PPP/C said it is once again placed in the position of being a victim of GECOM’s inability to enforce the law and its recently publicised operational procedures.
- ACCOMPANYING BALLOT BOXES
The PPP/C said its Ballot Agents were prevented from accompanying the Ballot Boxes although APNU/AFC Agents were permitted to do so since there was space in the vehicle. The PPP/C said its agents were only allowed in the vehicle from Camp Stevenson after former President Donald Ramotar spoke with the Chief Elections Officer of GECOM, Mr. Lowenfield.
Several other PPP/C agents were not that lucky and so they had to travel in vehicles provided by the Party behind the GECOM’s vehicle while under close surveillance by Police and GDF ranks.