The tabulation of Region Four’s Statements of Poll for the 2023 Local Government Elections (LGE) was marred by utter chaos. According to Opposition Commissioner at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vincent Alexander, there was a stark deviation from normal processes. Instead of some 15 Deputy Returning Officers (DRO) being allowed to collect and tabulate the votes for the respective constituencies and passing that data set onto the Returning Officer (RO) for integration, all 351 polling agents were told to take their Statements of Poll directly to the RO at the Region Four Command Centre at Critchlow Labour College (CLC).

Alexander told Guyana Standard that he has participated in two Local Government Elections (LGE) prior and never has he witnessed such a deviation from standard procedure.

“There was a lot of pandemonium before I got there around 11 pm. What occurred was a decision by the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Vishnu Persaud. Rather than observe the original system which allowed for Deputy ROs to be recipients of SOPs from the constituencies, he directed everyone which counted 351 persons to deliver to the Central Office at CLC,” Alexander said.

He shared that initially, one person, being the RO, was handling all of the work “and obviously if you have to go through the count for each polling agent, it takes time.”

Alexander said the environment was not conducive for what was demanded. He said the physical accommodation left hundreds of men and women standing body to body.

“The area they were in had no light or ventilation and you had two police officers trying to get them to form a line and to go in from time to time. It was not an efficient process. So it was who came first or could push best that got to the door to (provide their SOPs to the Returning Officer,” he said.

Noting the protest by polling agents who were frustrated, Alexander said he intervened by contacting the CEO to whom he explained that a system had to be put in place. It was subsequently agreed, following discussions with the RO as well, that 10 persons be incorporated into the tabulation process. At the time he left the building, which was around 1 am, Alexander said only five persons were added.

Alexander said the confusion left many persons standing for hours, two of whom fainted and needed to be taken to a nearby hospital for medical attention.

He said the process came to a halt around 3 am and was scheduled to continue at 10 am.

Guyana Standard understands that the Region Four votes would be completed today.



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