GECOM has given itself a pass mark for its conduct of the national and regional elections. Others, many, many others, beg to disagree. They say they have evidence that GECOM screw up. Big time! Now while we leave it to the political parties to make the call as to whether the elections were free and fair or unfree and unfair, this is a democratic society, after all and that affords other people the privilege of throwing in their two pennies worth as to exactly how GECOM shaped up.
The big deal was the length of time it took GECOM to count up a few hundred thousand votes. Now we have heard Boss Man Surujbally umpteen times about the need to add up the votes correctly than add them again and again and again. After all everybody know is hell to pay if GECOM get the numbers wrong. But even if we accept that we still have to ask ourselves on which planet it ought reasonably to take three days to count less than 400,000 votes. Dr. Surujbally seemed to be so taken up with the issue of GECOM taking its time that he appeared to completely forget that waiting for results is always the most uncomfortable part of our general elections. Tensions rise and people get nervous and rumours start running wild about the reasons why the results are coming in on a turtle’s back. It’s not only us who think the count is far too slow. Read the OAS Observer Team post-elections report. They too had a problem with how slow the votes were being counted.
Now we know only too well that a lot of Guyanese are mathematically challenged. Apparently there were some cases in which the numbers on Statements of Poll were added then added again then verified again and again and still the six or seven people who did the addition and verification got the numbers wrong. Fancy that! Half a dozen people adding up some relatively small numbers and getting them wrong. Some of the people, we are told, were teachers. No wonder so many people are resorting to extra maths lessons for their children.
But that is only part of the story. The OAS Observer Mission had other problems with the elections…like the fact that GECOM, in its wisdom decided to move a rather large number of polling stations from one location to another without, it seems, properly notifying people. It transpires that people ended up running from pillar to post in Regions Nine and Ten, among others, wondering just where they had to cast their ballots.
There’s more. The OAS Observer Mission talks about a man, an unaccredited, unescorted man delivering envelopes with Statements of Poll. How on God’s earth does something like that happen?
Then there were all these reports about people trying to run off with ballot boxes, and high officials of government barging into polling places and one particularly well-known high official turning up at a polling booth and assaulting the Polling official just because she was trying to do her job. Where was the police when all this was happening? Where were GECOM’s Security Guards?
There’s more too but the little that we have said ought surely to be enough to raise questions as to exactly what mark we should give GECOM for its performance.