July 10, 1998

Flawed analysis

Dear Sir,

Your recent editorials and editorial responses dealing with the recent election results are based on a curious and misleading line of reasoning. You have argued that given the racial make-up of the population and given racial voting, a PPP victory is guaranteed and any electoral process that produces this outcome must (by the sheer weight of this fact alone) be free, fair and regular.

This type of reasoning reminds one of the schoolboy sitting a Maths test. Having had the class genius whisper the correct answer to him, he then struggles to devise a solution that best fits this answer. What's more. he tries to hoodwink the teacher by explaining that since they both know the answer to be right, it's a waste of time to check his method; it must be perfect.

The Stabroek News, as well as the youngster, has to be reminded that the stages to the answer (however it seems right) outweigh in importance the answer itself.

These elections have been marred by serious flaws and irregularities. The Stabroek News has, in earlier times, said so ("election fiasco" were the words you used). The Commonwealth report has said so, and now the Cross Audit has concurred. This verdict by itself is enough to adjudge the election results as unacceptable. But, a further reason is that in a flawed system, with its mechanisms for checks and balances eroded, the potential for undiscovered fraud is high.

Now, if Guyanese are to accept an election merely because it has yielded the "right answer", and, moreover, if we are to ignore the serious distortions in the election process, then it presents those who are expected to always win and those who manage the election a licence to do whatever they want with the process--because the only true measure of their competence is whether they produce the expected results--an argument your analyses imply. It also means that if the PNC or any other party were declared winners, then all those flaws and misdeeds pointed out by several observers, including Ulric Cross, would suddenly have attained criminal proportions in the minds of many.

Where does all this leave us? For a start, let's demand higher standards of management of our electoral process, so that any result (expected or unexpected) would be free of the taint of suspicion and mistrust. And let's follow the example of our school teachers by not accepting a process merely because it has produced the apparently correct answer.

Election results are not deemed a reflection of the will of the electoral through intellectual analysis, but though the due process of voting and counting.

Yours faithfully,
Sherwood Lowe

Editor's note

There was clearly a great deal of bungling and incompetence at the Elections Commission which contributed to the delayed results. However, in our opinion, there was no electoral fraud. The quick count and the final count by the Electoral Assistance Bureau support the final results announced by the Elections Commission.

Our argument, based on the analysis of earlier fair elections (l957, l96l, l964 and l992) is that voting is largely ethnically based and that for as long as these patterns continue, and there is ample evidence that they did in l997, the party based on Indian support will have an advantage.