The Court cannot order a recount – Ramkarran

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Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran.
Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran.

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran says that Guyana’s High Court does not have the legal remit to order a recount of votes cast at the May 11 General and Regional Elections.

Ramkarran’s comment comes in the face of plans by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to approach the court to demand a recount of votes from the national polls.

Ramkarran made the statement in his weekly blog. See the full context of the blog below.

The Representation of the People Act, which can be found in volume 1 of the Laws of Guyana, contains the laws relating to elections, including the counting and recounting of votes. After the close of the poll the Presiding Officer is required to count the votes in the presence assistant election agents and election agents. There is no provision for recounting of votes by the Presiding Officer.

After the votes are counted by the Presiding Officers, the ballot boxes and other election material are delivered to the Returning Officer for the district. The Returning Officer ascertains the total votes cast in favour of each list of candidates in the district by adding the votes recorded on the Statements of Poll for each list and publicly declaring the votes cast for each list.

The counting agent of the political parties is entitled to be present while the Returning Officer is compiling the results and making the declaration. It would be expected that they would have the Statements of Poll of their political parties for the district and would therefore be able to follow the count and compare the final result. They would be able to point out any discrepancies between their Statements of Poll and those in the possession of the Returning Officers and, if discrepancies are discovered, to have them corrected.

By 12 noon of the following day after the declaration by the Returning Officer, a counting agent may request a recount of the votes already counted by the Presiding officers. This would be an expected course if discrepancies are found which could not be reconciled or if the counting agent has any other issues or suspicions. The request for a recount can be limited or general, that is to say, for some ballot boxes in the district or for all the ballot boxes in the district. Upon such a recount the Returning Officer is authorized to make corrections to the Statements of Poll and the final result if any discrepancies are discovered.

After this recount a candidate or counting agent can request yet another recount. However the Returning Officer can refuse such a request if in his opinion it is unreasonable. This final recount, if allowed, will follow the procedure of the first recount. If the Returning Officer rejects decision this final request. If he or she denies a further recount, there is no recourse except by way of election petition. The Chairman of the Elections Commission, or the Commission itself, has no power to reverse the decision of the Returning Officer.

The Herdmanston Accord of 1998 agreed to an audit of the votes cast at the 1997 elections. Recognizing that the power to audit by way of full or partial recount or otherwise did not exist, the Electoral Audit (Caricom Agreement) Act was drafted by Sir Henry Forde of Barbados who, along with Sir Alistair McIntyre and Sir Shridath Ramphal, (the three ‘wise men’) negotiated and drafted the Herdmanston Accord between the PPP and PNC after disturbances following the 1997 elections.

Section 4 of the Act provided that “an audit shall be carried out by an independent Commission….” Section 11 gave power to Chairman of the Audit Commission to give directives to the Chief Election Officer to produce any ‘book, document, paper or electronic material’ in his or her possession for inspection. It was on this legal basis that the votes could have been produced by the Commission to be audited. There was in fact a full recount of the votes.

Where a political party feels aggrieved, it can file an election petition to the High Court under article 163 of the Constitution. This article provides for claims based on two limbs. Firstly, the petitioner can claim that either generally or in a particular place the elections were not lawfully conducted. Secondly, the petitioner can claim that generally or in any particular place, an election has not been lawfully conducted or the result thereof has been, or may have been, affected by any unlawful act or omission. It appears from the PPP/C’s public pronouncements on the conduct of the elections that it would have to rely on the second limb.

If an election petition is filed on the basis of the second limb, the Guyana High Court would have jurisdiction to determine the issues only on the basis of the evidence which is presented by the petitioner who has to show by that evidence which is presented that the election results was or may have been affected by the unlawful acts or omissions which are proved. It is not the function, duty or business of the court to seek out its own evidence to aid the petitioner in proving its case by ordering an opening of the ballot boxes and the counting of the votes. In any event the court has no power to do. In other words, the petitioner would not be permitted to present a scintilla of evidence showing suspicious circumstances in relation to a limited number of Statements of Poll and then call on the court to order a recounting of the votes, based on that suspicion, so that it can verify whether or not its suspicions are justified.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I think something is definitely wrong with some people whether Guyanese or not who despite all that is being uncovered by the APNU+AFC Administration, still being bent on this lame and foolish idea about the possibility of a recount . The Elections are over Christ people let us rebuild this country that belongs to us not the PPP.

  2. pnc and supporters are so scared for a recount ; as a matter of fact they know the truth will come out. In reality p and friends can’t live with defeat; they say the lie so many times and now they eventually truly believe it. Just do the recount and get it over with, but buddy of course have to support it.

  3. Do not recount, they lost fair and square and need to get their collective heads with little to no brains amongst the lot of them that they no longer hold onto the reigns of power, pure and simple!

  4. A recount is needed straight up. If these elections was rigged inside GECOM offices then the public has a right to know. It will also reveal that the ABC countries are complicit.

  5. One recount and the same results will make the request for a second and third recount. What the PPP/C doesn’t realize. is that recount will not change the result and if there is one election, there will be A winner and A loser. If they had any credibility and moral standards in their daily lives, they will accept their position and ready themselves for the next election.They have to learn to accept defeat so that when success comes around, they will know how to cherish, enjoy and treat it. Not abuse it as they have been doing for the last 23 years. It is disgusting how they PALAVA themselves in the streets of Georgetown Picketing. Respectable people conduct themselves in a respectable manner. It’s clear that Respectable is not a word in their Vocabulary. They need to stop behaving like a flock of lost SHEEP without direction. Not taking sides here but this happens when people have
    enough of the BULL S..T.

  6. A recount is necessary to clear the air. This should have been granted considering all the allegitations. Let’s not waste time. Get on with this recount.

    If the coalation win’s this recount then let them govern for the next five years if not then hand over this government to the rightful elected party. It is only fair that the Guyanese people should be govern by a leader of their choice.

    As it stands the coalation is rejected by half of the population. Guyana is made up of 10 regions. Most APNU/AFC supporters considers Georgetown Guyana. This coalation is not accepted across this country.

  7. You mean to say after 23 yes. in Parliament these people are making much ado about recounting. It is a disrespect to themselves to put themselves out there for the world to see these so called politicians don’t even know the law was passed that the court cannot recount. They are a proven set of dunces who pronounce themselves as empty vessels making much noise because of a shameless defeat that they are hung up with. Stop the nonsense and find your shameful del in Parliament. Go and learn from respectable people how to conduct yourself when you win and how to morally behave when you LOSE!!!

  8. The big deal about not recounting is that you don’t give in to the PPP’s childish demands. Where do they get off? Always want. This is the same wante, wante behavior that you can’t resist resulting in all of you behaving like Alibaba and the 40 thieves.
    Now you want a recount, and when you don’t get the result you desire you are goint to WANT something else. GREED and WANT are synonymous with each other. That’s the PPP.

  9. Let them recount them dutty mistake .peepeep ,lawlessness .corruption ,disrespectful .wickedness ,no one cannot oppose them .them ready to out them lights .crume wing satay deo saw .fazal azeez . They are a pack of wolves ,

  10. PPP is problem. PNC win, what recount they talking about? you know you lost PPP so leave our prime minister alone and let him do his work, Long live the PNC.

  11. i really wonder whats the big deal about recounting these ballots! why not do the recount, avoiding this is making look like GECOME have something to hide. this is not picking sides but just do the recount and put everything to rest, and let this country keep moving.

  12. IF THE COURT CANNOT ORDER A RECOUNT , WHY KEEP THE BALLOT BOXES AT GECOM’S HEAD OFFICE ? BURN THEM TOGETHER WITH THE STATEMENTS OF POLL.

  13. Of late I have been wondering if there is no old school politician with a legal brain left to closely examine the PPP’s recount demand and address the correctable missteps of the coalition government, which missteps the PPP is trying use to make a mountain of complaints.
    Anyway, thanks to Ralphie, the whole recount drama may have been put to rest…finally. And now it is on to the leadership battle for the PPP, which may hinge on the outcome of Jagdeo’s second court appearance this week. If he is found guilty of violating the Representation of People’s Act, he cannot ever hold public office again.
    For the sake of Guyana, I hope the court finds him culpable. The PPP can then rebuild around new ideas.

  14. Y they don’t do the recount n clear the air gecom and associates fraud the election that the only reason I can c they don’t want to do it

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