Ballot boxes intact, says Gecom

- after container breaches

The Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom) yesterday declared that the integrity of the ballot boxes has not been compromised, though their metal containers at its complex at Coldingen, on the East Coast Demerara were breached.

The declaration came a day after the PPP/C alerted the public that three containers had been breached and sounded its concern at the development.

“…The integrity of the ballot boxes [was] not compromised,” Gecom spokesman Vishnu Persaud said in a statement yesterday, while emphasising  that the statements of poll in the ballot boxes are ready for any forensic scrutiny or audit that may be necessary.

The Gecom complex at Coldingen, East Coast Demerara

Persaud acknowledged that the attempt to access the contents of the containers carries the potential to create strife among the political parties and the electorate.

A police source told Stabroek News that the motive seemed to be to create mischief, since the perpetrator(s) had the opportunity to tamper with or steal the ballots but did not. This, the source said, was suspicious.

According to Persaud, at around 2.15pm on Sunday, as the on site security guards were conducting a routine check around the containers at Coldingen, they found that the padlocks on three of the containers—each container carries two heavy-duty padlocks—had been prised open. This, he said, led to a report being promptly made to the police and Gecom officials and they immediately visited the location and carried out checks on the contents of the containers. “All of the contents were found to be intact,” he said, while noting that all the ballot boxes were accounted for and the concomitant seals which were placed on them were patently intact and the contents of the boxes were uncompromised. Persaud said that new padlocks were affixed to the containers and security has since been intensified.

With reference to the motive of the person(s) who breached the locks, Persaud said it is unknown at this point in time. “The ongoing investigation into the breach of the containers is in the hands of the police; and Gecom’s internal security personnel will continue to assist in this undertaking under the leadership of Mr Henry Chester, Gecom’s Chief Security Officer and former deputy commissioner of police,” he added.

He also noted following the just concluded polls, the metal containers in which the ballot boxes and other electoral equipment and material are stored, were returned to Gecom locations, at its Headquarters at High and Cowan Streets, Kingston and the Coldingen Complex, between December 1 and 2. He said general security is provided at both locations.

On Sunday, the PPP/C had brought the incident to the media’s attention, while expressing concern that the breach could alter a possible recount.

Police have said that investigations are still continuing into the matter.

Meanwhile, another visit to the Coldingen Complex yesterday morning was met with the same information sent in the Gecom release. The supervisor in charge of the day shift workers there related that on the day of the incident there were five guards on duty posted at the various locations in the compound.

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