AFG witness claims auditors ignored many irregularities

Guyana Chronicle
May 13 , 1999

ALLIANCE for Guyana (AFG) Deputy Chief Electoral Agent for the 1997 general elections, Desmond Trotman yesterday added details of unsealed ballot boxes to the list of irregularities he observed after the balloting.

Still under cross-examination by Senior Counsel Rex McKay at the hearing of the PNC petition, the witness, who was Chief Scrutineer for his grouping, said the Elections Commission had directed that those containers should have been sealed following the count.

But his observations were made while the (CARICOM) auditors were checking the results.

Trotman said each box was to have a single seal but, to his surprise, some had two, others had none and a number were broken.

The witness said he felt the chests had been tampered with and one-third of the 734 from Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) fell in that category or with the protective device missing and he drew those things to the attention of the audit team.

McKay, who is representing PNC Leader Desmond Hoyte, also asked Trotman about Statements of Poll SOPs), ballot papers and their counterfoils as well as voter identification (ID) cards.

Trotman said, prior to the polling, the Elections Commission had instructed Presiding Officers and other officials to put certain documents in the provided crates after the counting at the respective places where the votes were cast.

However, there was a departure from those instructions and some arrived at the destination without the expected contents that were intended to assist in reconciling the reports on the polls.

Ninety per cent of those from Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) did not contain what they should have had and with more than one seal.

Trotman said he also pointed that out to the Audit Commission, hoping a record of the seals would have been requested.

Sixty-five per cent of the ballot boxes did not yield any voter IDs and a few counterfeits appeared as the auditors were making random checks.

Trotman said he argued that, in such a situation, it was very likely other bogus tags would escape notice but his suggestion was not followed.

The witness said many of the SOPs from Region Four were unsigned while others were signed by persons who were not Presiding Officers.

Trotman said the signature J. Mohabir was on SOPs from five different polling stations and it was revealed that the person was Assistant Supervisor for East Coast Demerara.

Another individual's name was on SOPs at 15 polling places and Trotman could not say who would have given the authority for that person to preside at so many.

The witness alleged that many irregularities were ignored by the auditing team and those combined could have had a negative effect on the outcome.

In this matter before Justice Claudette Singh, PNC supporter Esther Perreira, of Lot 75 South Sophia, Greater Georgetown, is seeking to invalidate the 1997 polls, on the ground that the process was so flawed it cannot be said to accurately reflect the will of the electorate.

She has also named as respondents the other List Representatives of the contesting political parties, including President Janet Jagan.

But all of them, except Hamilton Green of A Good and Green Guyana (AGGG), have pledged to abide the ruling in this case which continues today.

A page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples