On Elections Day, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will have a cohort of staff that must be present in every polling station to effectively and efficiently manage the conduct of the General and Regional Elections. On May 11, 2015, the GECOM staff present at all polling stations will consist of a Presiding Officer, Assistant Presiding Officer, Poll Clerk, Ballot Clerk, and an Information Clerk. It is important to note that all of GECOM’s Polling Day Officials must take the Oath of Office which commits them to complying with all applicable regulations in place to enable them to fulfil their roles and discharge their responsibilities in accordance with their mandate and the Law.
This feature examines the roles of the Presiding Officer and the Assistant Presiding Officer. The public is hereby being apprised of what to expect of these two GECOM officers on Polling Day.
The Role of the Presiding Officer (PO)
The Presiding Officer is responsible for the efficient operation of the Polling Station to which he/she is assigned and ensuring that it functions in an orderly manner at all times. The relevant duties of the Presiding Officer, which electors may observe while at the Polling Station, are as follows:
Ensuring that all signs and notices are in place – those before Polling Day and others on Polling Day.
Determining the six-digit number for the stamp (official mark) in the presence of Polling Day Staff and Polling Agents.
Ensuring that the persons other than voters, e.g. Certified Political Party Agents, attending the Polling Station are authorised to enter and are in possession of Identity Cards issued by GECOM.
Determining, when required, whether an elector is eligible to cast his or her vote.
Administers voting by proxies.
Making entries in the Poll Book if such are required.
Assisting differently-abled electors to cast their votes.
Knowledgeably and efficiently administering oaths/affirmations.
Dealing with Certificates of Employment.
Ensuring that all electors requiring assistance are treated in a dignified manner.
Ensuring that Polling Agents and observers are permitted to monitor the process without interfering with electors or with the proceedings.
Ensuring the queues are moving smoothly and orderly.
Ensuring that all persons waiting to vote do so before the poll is declared closed, once they are in the queue at 6 PM.
The Role of the Assistant Presiding Officer (APO)
The Assistant Presiding Officer is really the second-in-charge of the Polling Station, and assists the Presiding Officer with a number of the essential duties. In addition there are a number of specific duties that the Assistant Presiding Officer must perform, and which can be observed by electors entering a Polling Station. These duties are:
Double-checking the National ID Card of all electors against the GECOM Registration record.
Entering on the counterfoil of the ballot paper, the serial number of the elector as it appears on the Official List of Electors.
Stamping the Official Mark (Six Digit Number) on the back of the ballot paper (Top and Bottom).
Using the specimen ballot paper, the APO enlightens (if necessary) the elector on the procedure associated with marking the ballot paper to choose the Poltical Party of his or her choice.
Demonstrating to and instructing the elector on how to fold the ballot paper after marking vote.
Delivering the ballot paper to the elector and directing him or her to the voting compartment and the Ballot Clerk.
NB: The Presiding Officer assists with the above functions when he or she (PO) is not attending to special cases.
In our next installment, we will focus on the duties of the other three elections officials (Poll Clerk, Ballot Clerk and the Information Clerk) that must be present on behalf of GECOM in every polling station on Elections Day.