Even as A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC)’s political opponents continue to call on the party to release its Statements of Poll (SOPs), the incumbent regime refuses to do so.
SOPs are produced after the close of poll at the respective polling stations on elections day. That document contains, among other things, the number of votes received by each contesting party. Copies of that document are given to party representatives, observers and scrutineers. There were 2,339 polling stations throughout Guyana on polling day; this means that there are 2,339 ballot boxes containing votes cast, and an identical number of SOPs.
The Opposition, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) which also contested the March General and Regional Elections, would have produced its SOPs.
Political commentators have said that by examining and tabulating the data on the SOPs, one can arrive at which party won these elections. This methodology is the basis for the PPP/C claiming victory. But even the PPP/C-released SOPS continue to be the subject of tremendous backlash from the APNU+AFC; alleging that the statements are incredulous.
Also, the discrepancies being discovered during this national recount are being used to cast doubt on some of the numbers provided by the PPP/C. While the party has admitted there were “minor” discrepancies, its SOPs have been vindicated – at least, so far. The process is now in its tenth day, with 15 more to go.
While the APNU+AFC has also claimed victory, it did not do so based on its SOPs. In fact, the party’s basis for claiming victory was the final regional declaration made by the Region Four Returning Officer (RO), Clairmont Mingo, whose methodology was deemed flawed by the Chief Justice.
Mingo’s figures show a comfortable win for the APNU+AFC, but there were disparities between his numbers and those of the PPP/C, small parties, local and foreign observers. It is these disparities that have resulted now in a recount of the 10 electoral districts.
Aubrey Norton, Executive Member of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) – which is the largest party within the six-member APNU – said this afternoon that the APNU+AFC has its SOPs, and it reserves the right to release them or not.
He said: “My party has its Statements of Poll. It is for its use, and it has to decide strategically and tactically when it releases it. And if we made a decision that we don’t want to release it [then] that’s our strategic position, and we have no apologies for it.”
Asked if it would be beneficial to the party to release its SOPs to prove that they are “true”, Norton replied: “[F]irst of all, I believe that all Statements of Poll will have errors – for different reasons. And right now, I do not believe it is in our interest to get involved in the issue of Statements of Poll, or else, we would have done so a long time ago.”
Norton said that there are disparities when SOPs are compared to the Statement of Recount (SORs) in Region Three.
He said that in many instances, it was found that votes from the Disciplined Services were not included into the “mix”. Norton alleged that in “many instances” votes from the Joint Services were not stamped.
“So, Statement of Poll has its own pitfalls, it has it strengths. When you’re in a political process, you have to realize that anything you do will have negatives and positives,” he concluded.