By Kurt Campbell
On Wednesday, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) handed over the original copies of all Statements of Vote (SOPs) and Statements of Account (SORs) of the March 02, 2020 elections to the Registrar of the Supreme Court, Sueanna Lovell.
This is in line with an Order by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, SC, directing GECOM and its Chief Election Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, to transmit the documents before January 29, 2021.
Each SOP and SOR were individually submitted and recorded; a tedious process that Lowenfield said he hoped could be completed before the end of the day.
“I pass on the Voting Statements … sent to me during the process, that’s what I do … and also the Recount Statements,” Lowenfield told the media during a water break at the High Court in Georgetown.
Lowenfield said the law stipulates that the records be kept by the Chief Returning Officer for a specified period, however, although that timeline has not expired, he was following the CJ’s orders.
There are a total of 2, 339 Poll Statements (SOPs) and a further 2, 339 Recount Statements to be passed to court. Lowenfield said the GECOM Secretariat had made copies of the documents to keep for her records.
“I wouldn’t give away everything I have,” he added.
Lowenfield attended the High Court on Wednesday morning along with GECOM Chairman Justice (retired) Claudette Singh. Also in attendance were GECOM Commissioners Sase Gunraj, Vincent Alexander and Desmond Trotman.
The Chief Justice made the order to allow for the safe custody of the documents which will likely support arguments in the case of the forthcoming elections petition. Justice George made the Order after dismissing the second election petition (99 / P) filed by the opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU + AFC) while retaining the first petition (88 / P).
The SOPs and SORs are expected to be evidence upon hearing of the case. The SORs also include observational reports, which the coalition said it intends to rely on to prove its case. But although it intends to use the observational reports from the recount, the coalition still holds its copies of Polls Statements.
In March 2020, High Court Judge Franklyn Holder rejected a request made to him for GECOM to produce in court the SOPs for District Four, Guyana’s largest voting area, which was embroiled in controversy and led to a national recount of all votes cast and a five-month delay in announcing the true winner of the March 2 elections.
After serving only one term in office, the coalition lost the elections and claimed widespread voter fraud in the polls but refused to release their copies of the SOPs to prove its claims.
The recount figures show that the Progressive People / Civic Party (PPP / C) won the elections by over 15,000 votes.