RECOUNT UPDATE: 32 ballot boxes counted as of 4PM today

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Public Relations Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Yolanda Ward, has disclosed that some 32 ballot boxes were recounted as of 4 PM or 16:00h today (Sunday, May 10, 2020) – Day 5 of the national recount.

During her daily update to media, Ward said that of the 32 completed ballot boxes thus far today: seven were for Region One (Barima-Waini); six for Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam); 10 for Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), and nine for Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica).

The GECOM PRO also told reporters that the seven-member Elections Commission met earlier today and deliberated on a number of issues.

Coming out of those decisions taken by the Commission today is a band on all live streaming in the counting centre. She noted that party agents are allowed to use cell phones at the counting centres only to take photographs of the ballot boxes when they arrive at the work stations and of the completed Statements of Recount (SoRs) when it is produced at the end of the recount.

“So no streaming of the process is permitted but persons are allowed to take those photographs during that exercise,” she stated.

Another decision taken by the Commission today is to overturn, in part, a previous position to not have any more ballot boxes be opened after 17:00h.

It was explained that because of the agreed sequential manner with which the ballot boxes were being counted, persons found that it would be difficult to complete some of the boxes contain large amounts of ballots before the prescribed cut off time at 19:00.

That cut off point had been put in place by the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) taskforce which has imposed a countrywide curfew.

Ward has since disclosed that a decision was taken today to have the counting stations take a ballot box with a smaller number of votes so that they can finish on time. This will see them moving away from the sequential order they have been working with.

Ward told reporters “while we will try to stick to that same 17:00hrs mark but you will narrow it down to make sure that we select a box that may have a small number of ballots.”

Many of the political parties have complained about the pace the recount process is moving at and that GECOM is not taking optimum advantage of the limited time available to finish the recount, which has a 25-day deadline.

Nevertheless, the GECOM PRO did indicate that the counting stations would have to work out a modality on how they would go about selecting which box to be opened at that 17:00h timeline, “so that it’s completed by 19:00h.”

Meanwhile, the seven-member Elections Commission also decided today to have the observation reports being made during the recount process be documented in language to reflect the reality of allegations being made without evidence.

Ward drew reference to reports and complaints by party agents related to accusations of dead or migrated persons that voted during the March 2, polls.

The GECOM PRO said that persons objected to the reports that had been articulated to sound as though the allegations being made were facts without the evidence being presented.

“So one of the things that will have to filter down to the work stations, particularly to the staff preparing that report, is to be careful in terms of the language used on that report particularly if there is no evidence to substantiate the claim. So they will have to ensure they use words such as ‘allegation’ and ‘alleged’ or so,” Ward stated.

Another of the substantial decisions taken by the Commission during its meeting on Sunday is to have three party agents present in the tabulation centre for the tallying of the SORs. Previously, only two party agents were allowed.