Most Region Six ballot boxes had items missing
May 13, 1999
Chief scrutineer for the Alliance for Guyana (AFG) at the December 1997 elections, Desmond Trotman, said yesterday that 90% of the ballot boxes returned from Region Six did not contain three main items: statements of poll; ballot paper counts and a marked list of voters.
When his cross-examination by Senior Counsel Rex McKay in the Esther Perreira election petition hearing resumed yesterday before Justice Claudette Singh,, Trotman explained that these documents should have been placed in the ballot boxes, but that quite a large number of boxes opened by the CARICOM Audit Commission (CAC) did not have the said documents. He explained that the documents would have assisted in reconciling the results. These irregularities were ignored, and, in his opinion, when put together could have impacted negatively on the final results.
McKay is appearing for PNC leader Desmond Hoyte, who has been named as a respondent in the petition.
Questioned by McKay about the sealing of ballot boxes, Trotman said each ballot box should have carried one seal as instructed by the Elections Commission, but boxes from Region Six were returned with more than one seal.
He added that the Elections Commission had instructed that all voter identification cards were to be placed in the ballot boxes, but 65% of the boxes were returned without voter ID cards. This prompted McKay to restate the slogan of the Elections Commission: "No voter ID card, no vote."
The witness agreed with McKay that the CAC had discovered some bogus ID cards in ballot boxes. He said that he had requested that all the ballot boxes be re-examined, because other bogus cards could have escaped their attention during a random check prior to the discovery of the bogus cards. His request was refused.
On the question of statements of poll, the witness said that presiding officers or their deputies were requested by law to sign these. Trotman stated that on two occasions there were irregularities in this area. In the first instance, he said, one signature appeared on statements of poll from five different polling stations. In another instance, one signature appeared 15 times in the place designated to be signed by presiding officers from 15 different polling stations.
Asked by McKay about red ink markings on statements of poll, he said that those statements of poll which were retrieved from ballot boxes were devoid of any red ink. He explained that the CAC had said that the statements with red ink, which were in the form of computer print-outs had been delivered from the Elections Commission and were stored in cartons in the vault of Demerara Bank Limited. He said that the print-outs were regarded as bogus, as, according to him, CAC Chairman, Ulric Cross, after glancing at one statement, declared that it was not a legal statement.
The election petition by Perreira challenges the validity of the 1997 general elections results and along with Hoyte, has named the other representatives of the lists of the political parties contesting the elections and the Chief Election Officer as respondents.
Meanwhile, Trotman pointed out to Justice Singh earlier that he had been misquoted in a story which appeared in the Stabroek News yesterday under the heading: 'One-third of Region Four ballots were unstamped'. The story said in the opening paragraph: "... 1/3 of the ballot papers contained in 734 ballot boxes from Region Four were unstamped." Trotman explained that what he meant was: "1/3 of the ballot papers from Region Four were contained in 734 ballot boxes which were unsealed."
However, before the hearing began yesterday, Trotman said he understood how the mix-up could have occurred, because of the manner in which he was being cross-examined by McKay on the issues of unstamped ballot papers and unsealed boxes and envelopes.
A © page from: Guyana: Land of Six Peoples