Three more Presiding Officers plead memory lapses

Guyana Chronicle
October 26, 1999

THREE more Presiding Officers (POs) in Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) for the 1997 balloting pleaded memory lapses yesterday when they testified at the elections petition hearing before Justice Claudette Singh.

One of them, Cheryl Chase, who worked at a school in East Ruimveldt, Georgetown, said she could not recall whether she had declared the results from her polling station on Elections Day.

Led through evidence-in-chief by attorney-at-law Mr Hubert Rodney, one of the lawyers representing respondent Chief Elections Officer Stanley Singh, the witness said she did prepare a Statement of Poll (SOP) that day.

But, when asked if she signed it and how many copies she made, witness answered:"I think so. I can't really recall how many documents I had prepared."

Answering Senior Counsel Peter Britton, for the petitioner Esther Perreira, Chase said she could not remember any declaration, on Elections Night, of results from the polling place where she was posted.

It was only the day before she knew she would be a PO.

PO Barbara Lewis, who was attached to Grove Primary School, East Bank Demerara, was another who did not get a letter of appointment from the Elections Commission.

She, too, prepared SOPs but could not remember how many copies, although she placed them in an envelope which she handed to the Deputy Returning Officer.

In reply to Britton, Lewis said a Police officer had been to her polling station that day and enquired how many people had finished voting.

She did not know his rank but examined the list and gave him the information he required.

Lewis told Britton she received a manual for POs during her training but she never saw in it anything saying a Police officer had a duty to ascertain the number of votes cast.

She denied writing on an SOP shown her and added:"I do not know who made it and I did not authorise anyone to make it."

A third PO, Eon Mars said he was gazetted to work at Herstelling but was switched to Providence, also on East Bank Demerara, the very day.

He identified his signature on an SOP but said his was not the only writing on it.

Mars pointed to additions which he could not explain.

"I cannot recall making these changes in relation to the date.I do not know who made the changes, neither have I authorised any person to make them," he maintained.

Stepheney Daniels was the other PO to give evidence yesterday as lawyers on the other side continue their rebuttal of the petitioner's case.

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 system was so flawed the outcome cannot be said to accurately reflect the will of the electorate.

In her quest, she has cited, as other responmdents, the List Representatives of the political parties that contested, including former Presidents Janet Jagan, of the People's Progressive Party/Civic and PNC Leader Desmond Hoyte.

The proceedings continue today.

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