Count observer concurs 45,145 voted without IDs

by Michelle Elphage
Guyana Chronicle
May 14, 1999

ONE of the persons who observed the audit of the 1997 general elections results said yesterday he agrees with the CARICOM team report that more than 45,000 people cast ballots without voter identification (ID) cards.

Alliance for Guyana (AFG) Chief Scrutineer, Desmond Trotman said that aspect of the findings was in accord with his.

The witness, who completed his testimony yesterday after eight days under oath, was testifying at the hearing of the elections petition launched by People's National Congress (PNC) supporter, Esther Perreira, of Lot 75 South Sophia, Greater Georgetown.

Trotman identified other sections of the document, headed `Statements of Poll' and `Voter ID Cards' as lending credence to what he reported.

Still being cross-examined by Senior Counsel Rex McKay, representing respondent PNC Leader Desmond Hoyte, the AFG Deputy Chief Electoral Agent said the count revealed that a significant number of electors voted with no IDs and meaningful attempts to reconcile the IDs with ballots cast proved futile.

According to Trotman, the auditors' statistical records show that 45,195 persons exercised their franchise although they did not have the required IDs.

The witness said he was concerned about the movement of ballot boxes from one polling station to the other unsupported by any evidence.

His other worries were the missing IDs and misuse of seals for ballot boxes, some of which had two instead of one, as was stipulated.

Trotman looked at the compilation (by the group which retired Justice Ulric Cross headed) and noted that the (Audit) Commissioners found the situation with Statements of Poll (SOPs) had been "inadequately managed".

He quoted from more sections, including where it was stated that ballots and counterfoils could not be reconciled.

Trotman said the compendium pointed out that, in Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica), where there were 175,136 ballots, the counterfoils numbered 174,210.

He gave Region Six (East Berbioce/Corentyne) figures as 71,562 ballots and 69,138 counterfoils and said full counts of the IDs were done for Regions Four, Six, Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) and Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni).

Senior Counsel Peter Britton, for Perreira, undertook to lead a fresh witness on the resumption Monday.

Britton indicated yesterday that he is nearing the end of his presentation.

He will be followed by other Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh, who is appearing for the number one respondent, Chief Elections Officer Stanley Singh.

The lawyer Singh disclosed that he would be calling about 200 witnesses.

Perreira is asking Justice Claudette Singh to invalidate the outcome of the 1997 polls, on the ground that the process was so flawed it cannot be said to accurately reflect the will of the electorate.

In her quest, she has also named, as respondents, the List Representatives of the other contesting political parties, including President Janet Jagan.

But all of them, except Hamilton Green of A Good and Green Guyana (AGGG), have pledged to accept the decision in this case.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples