Stakeholders concerned with GPL’s “unreliability” in utilising automatic ballot scan, tabulation technology

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By Kurt Campbell

GECOM CEO Keith Lowenfield
GECOM CEO Keith Lowenfield

[www.inewsguyana.com] – With talk of elections clouding the atmosphere of homes, offices and market places, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield has reinforced the seriousness of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) in utilizing automatic ballot scan and tabulation technology in the roll-out of general and local government elections.

Speaking at a reception last evening, at the Official residence of the Canadian High Commissioner, Lowenfield said GECOM is satisfied and believes the technology is “workable” here.

GECOM representatives, Politicians, Canadian Officials and University of Guyana staff and students had gathered to celebrate the recent successful Student Council Elections conducted at UG using the electoral pilot technology provided by Delian – out of Canada.

But according to Lowenfield, the use of the technology which ultimately provides faster and accurate vote tabulation will depend on consultations with all stakeholders.

He recalled the cries of citizens concerning the time it takes to announce the final results despite it being done within the stipulated time frame.  

The GECOM CEO along with many others raised concerns surrounding the unavailability of electricity in some areas and the “unreliability” of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) in others.

Lowenfield said too that GECOM had approached Delian some 24 months ago noting its interest in using the technology and a trip was even made to Wakenaam to develop a “Plan B”.

“If we are to operationalize, blackouts and brownouts would be a primary consideration… some persons based on age have little confidence in things technological… but I am satisfied based on my observations that the system is workable,” he added; explaining that changes will also need to be made with respect to existing laws before the technology can be used.

Meanwhile, UG’s Deputy Vice Chancellor Barbara Reynolds said a 33 percent increase in voting was recorded this year on all campuses.

She believes if the pilot was successful at UG, “with all the hiccups UG has,” then it is easy to suggest that it can be successful at the national level.

Canadian High Commissioner, Dr. Nicole Giles.
Canadian High Commissioner, Dr. Nicole Giles.

Canadian High Commissioner Dr. Nicole Giles reminded that free and fair elections are central to democracy. 

“This includes accurate, transparent, and timely elections with verifiable outcomes.  Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Chief Electoral Officer for Canada (1990-2007) stated that “It is basic tenet of democracy that election results be released to the public as soon as they are available – and technology has done a lot to make that possible,” Giles said.

She told those gathered that the automated ballot scan and tabulation voting system reinforces this in four key ways:

  1. Results are tabulated as they are sent in at the close of the polls, resulting in the ability to announce results almost immediately and dramatically reducing the sometimes tense waiting period before results are released.
  2. The machines offer the comfort of a paper trail (i.e. the paper ballots themselves) should a physical recount be required.
  3. Tabulation results are sent securely with encryption to the central tabulation centre either by cellular phone, satellite or the internet. This means that statement of polls from even the most remote regions are securely transmitted within minutes of the polls closing.
  4. Automated ballot scan and tabulation machines can also dramatically reduce the number of spoiled ballots by returning to the voter ballots with unclear markings, thereby counting votes that would otherwise be discarded. This enfranchises voters that may otherwise be disenfranchised.
  5. A colour-coded and earphone device can be attached to the machines, which allows illiterate or otherwise challenged voters to cast their votes unassisted. Again, this enfranchises voters that would otherwise not be able to cast their ballots themselves.

She applauded the University of Guyana for taking the lead in bringing this technology to Guyana and also thanked the DELIAN Project team for taking the time out of their very busy schedules to come to Guyana to deliver this pilot. 

 

 

 

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. all is fine and dandy until after polls closed on every election ever since pnc stopped ruling..the said canada along with CARIGONE countries had nothing to say when the UK and US installed it puppet King Kabaka Bunham to rule with his iron foot until he died…Yes the said Canada could not open their mouth and talk that a democratically elected Government was removed from power during that time..The said Canada never send their electronics so that people votes can be counted and be honored..Canada finance minister during the Mulroney years Michael Wilson did the budget for the the PNC dunce Carl Green-age..
    Canada and the world sat on the sidelines and watch their installed puppets brought Guyanese to their knees making Guyanese so poor that some were eating from the garbage heap in Georgetown area.
    PNC WILL ALWYS MAKE TROUBLE AFTER EVERY ELECTION KNOWING FULLY-WELL PNC CANT WIN WITH THE SUPPORT BASE IT HAS.
    THE SAID CANADIANS WOULD NOT SEE IT FIT TO BRAND PNC A TERROR ORGAN TO ITS PEOPLE IN GUYANA..ITS IS WHAT IT IS…

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