Embattled Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield wants to join a case that will determine the release of information to be used to prosecute him in electoral fraud matters. Lowenfield is already before the courts faced with several charges regarding his conduct during the March 2020 General and Regional Elections.
The request for the release of Statements of Poll (SOPs) and Statements of Recount (SORs) was made by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Commissioner of Police in the High Court. These SOPs contain the number of votes each party received at each polling station on election day. Copies of SOPs are given to party agents and local and international observers, among others at the close of poll. A copy of that SOP is also placed outside each polling station for public consumption.
Those SOPs are then summed up and presented by the Regional Returning Officers (RO). Disparities were noted when SOPs in the possession of party agents and observers were compared to the figures announced by Region Four’s RO, Clairmont Mingo. Controversy erupted, litigations were filed, and protests rang out in the streets.
The then-Chairperson of the Caribbean Community, Mia Mottley, with the blessings of then President, David Granger, former Opposition Leader now Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo, and Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Chairperson, Claudette Singh, sent a team to observe a national recount of all the votes. That process produced SORs, which entail the figures garnered from that recount method.
Following the national recount, Lowenfield submitted several reports not consistent with the figures produced from that process.
After the People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s ascension to office of August 2, 2020, Lowenfield, Mingo, and several other Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) officials were slapped with charges. The SOPs and SORs were then placed in the custody of the Supreme Court Registrar, Sueanna Lovell, pursuant to an order made by the Chief Justice (acting), Roxane George that the documents be placed for safekeeping, as the court deliberated on an elections petition case filed by A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) supporters. Following her dismissal of that petition, the CJ ordered that the documents remain in the custody of the Registrar should an appeal be filed.
The DPP and Top COP need those SOPs and SORs to prosecute charges which are pending in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court against Lowenfield, Mingo, and others. But Lowenfield, through his lawyer Nigel Hughes, has expressed intention to be part of that case for the purpose of persuading the Court, that the SOPs should not be released.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall has dubbed the development as “another attempt to block the SOPs from being made public”.