Guyana: GECOM promises timely results for Local Government Elections

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Guyana: GECOM promises timely results for Local Government Elections
GECOM’s Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward and Registration Officer Clairmont Mingo (Delano Williams photo)
GECOM’s Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward and Registration Officer Clairmont Mingo (Delano Williams photo)

(GUYANA CHRONICLE) — The declaration of results for small Local Authority Areas (LAAs) in the upcoming Local Government Elections will be made by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) within the first three hours of the close of polls, according to GECOM’s Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward.

“Let’s use the three new Local Authority Areas (LAAs) that we have in the Pomeroon River where each of them only have three constituencies, the returning officer can quickly tabulate for each constituency for the First-Past-the-Post component within the first hour,” Ward explained while noting that larger LAAs such as Georgetown and Linden could take a little longer.

“The [results for] Proportional Representation can come within the next two hours or even less, depending on the distance the RO [returning officer] needs to go to in terms of uplifting all the statements of poll, verifying all of the information, doing tabulations, arriving at the quota and all of that and to make that declaration,” she further explained.
At the time, Ward was speaking to reporters on the sideline of an informative session organised by the Guyana Press Association (GPA) in collaboration with GECOM on Saturday at the National Racquet Centre boardroom.

Early declaration of the results means that candidates with the most votes in the First-Past-the-Post component for the various constituencies within a Local Authority Area (LAA) would be announced by GECOM. Similarly, information for the Proportional Representation component in the mixed local government system will be revealed.

“In terms of the release of the information, we will do it by Local Authority Area, constituencies, the Proportional Representation Component, the First-Past-the-Post Component, the number of seats, the number of valid votes cast,” the GECOM PRO said. The results will be broadcast on the National Communications Network (NCN) and released to the media as they are confirmed by GECOM.

READY

Ward said the Returning Officers (ROs) are ready to deliver. “We have worked out with our returning officers the importance of them working out a faster mythology[sic] to ensure those results are available. Our returning officers have been working very hard to ensure that they are able to deliver on that in their respective areas,” she said.

Last week, GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield had assured that the counting of ballots and declaration of results would not go beyond November 13, 2018.

Probed whether the Elections Commission feels pressured to deliver more timely results when compared to the 2016 local government elections, and the past General and Regional Elections, Ward said no.

“I don’t think it is public pressure. I know we are talking elections and accuracy of the results is what is important and for us being a constitutional agency with a constitutional mandate, from the average person outside the anxiety is always there but for us the accuracy of that results is what is even more important, because once something is released you cannot pull it back,” she told reporters.

Ward emphasised that though GECOM understands the “anxiety” that comes with any local or general elections, accuracy is GECOM’s number one priority.

On November 12, approximately 573,000 eligible voters within the 80 Local Authority Areas are expected to vote at 1,674 polling stations countrywide.

During the informative session, which sought to educate media operatives on the electoral process, GECOM Registration Officer Clairmont Mingo disclosed that during this new week, GECOM’s Secretariat would be transporting the election materials to central locations within the LAAs.

TIGHT SECURITY

Weighing in on the topic, Ward told reporters that the materials which include ballots will be escorted under tight security.

“Now at the top of our priority is security, so there are systems in place for the movement of any election material… it is a lock-and-key scenario. So when materials are moved from Georgetown to any other location, it is being moved with security presence that remains there for 24 hours,” she noted.

The ballots procured from the Canadian Bank Note Company have arrived on schedule, according to GECOM, and are being secured by the Guyana Police Force (GPF).

The informative session with local media operatives, primarily reporters, was held to educate them on the existing systems within the electoral process.

“The media is a very important stakeholder when we are talking elections, you are the people who channel information out to the public and so it is important for you to have the information in terms of the electoral procedures as you report the information that is filtered to the public is as accurate as possible and you are reporting from a contextual perspective.”

Media operatives were also presented with a manual for polling day which includes a general background on GECOM, and the roles and responsibilities of its permanent and temporary employees. Some 10,700 polling staff have been trained to date by GECOM.

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