Court hears of polling station without results forms

Guyana Chronicle
October 22, 1999

ANOTHER Presiding Officer (PO) in Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) for the 1997 general elections yesterday disclaimed a signature on a document certifying results from a voting place.

"I am not the Yvonne Sandiford who signed this Statement of Poll. This is not my signature," the woman told Justice Claudette Singh when the elections petition hearing continued.

The witness said she did not produce any SOP at the polling station in Persaud's Shop on Elections Day because she did not have any of the forms on which to record the ballots.

Under cross-examination by Mr Raphael Trotman, representing the petitioner Esther Perreira, Sandiford said the Deputy Returning Officer had promised to send a supply of SOPs on being informed about a shortage but the official did not.

Earlier, led by Mr Hubert Rodney, one of the lawyers for respondent Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Stanley Singh, witness said, at the close of poll, she counted the ballots and allocated them to the respective contestant political parties.

But she maintained she made no official record of the votes cast as she had no SOPs among election materials given her.

Sandiford said, before the balloting ended, the Deputy Returning Officer visited and she notified her that she had no SOPs.

"She promised that she would send some to me but left and did not send anything," the witness recalled.

Sandiford said she underwent training but did not sit any examination and was appointed "word of mouth" by the Deputy Returning Officer.

She would not doubt that she was operating an illegal polling place on Elections Day, the witness stated.

Shown an SOP allegedly emanating from her polling station and purporting to have been signed by Yvonne Sandiford, the woman reacted:"This is not my signature."

She swore that document was never in existence at her polling place and had been created by persons unknown to her.

Re-examined by Rodney, witness said, following the elections, the Deputy Returning Officer called at her home and enquired about results and she gave the required information from notes she kept in her handbag.

With leave of the Court, Trotman questioned her further and Sandiford said the Deputy Returning Officer had mentioned the name of someone she said had instructed her to get certain details.

Sandiford said the official used a telephone to pass on the data she obtained from her.

Justice Singh ordered the witness to give three specimen signatures and they were accepted as exhibits.

Other Region Four POs who testified yesterday were Henry Narain, Margaret Joseph, Avril Toney and Valerie Jardin.

Perreira, a People's National Congress (PNC) supporter of Lot 75 South Sophia, Greater Georgetown, is challenging the validity of the 1997 polls, on the ground that the process was so flawed the outcome cannot be said to accurately reflect the will of the electorate.

And former Presidents Janet Jagan, of the People's Progressive Party/Civic governing alliance and PNC Leader Desmond Hoyte are among the List Representatives of contesting political parties cited as respondents, too.

The proceedings continue today.

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