Explaining delays in announcing poll results…


Surujbally says ‘exactitude, thoroughness will not be sacrificed for expediency’
HOURS into day two of the general and regional elections, the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) disclosed preliminary results that put A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) ahead of the incumbent People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), followed by the Alliance for Change and The United Force (TUF).

The GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, added that the preliminary results are based on only some regions where the statements of polls (SOPs) have been submitted.
“We at GECOM cannot sacrifice exactitude and thoroughness; we cannot compromise our efficiency on the altar of inefficiency,” Surujbally said at the GECOM media centre at Pegasus Hotel.
At the commission’s first press briefing at 9:00 hrs yesterday, Surujbally stated that up that time:
* The SOPs from Region 1 were still being flown into Georgetown;
* The SOPs from Region 2 ballots were being processed;
* Some of the SOPs from Region 3 had been tallied and he pointed out that there was some delay in getting ballots out from Wakenaam, Lanaballi and Saxakalli;
* 75 per cent of the SOPs were tallied from Region 4;
* 60 per cent of the SOPs were in from Region 5;
* 50 per cent of the SOPs in from Region 6 were in;
* And the documents from Regions 7, 8 and 9 were still being transported to Georgetown.

According to him, the votes from Region 10 had to be sent back to the officers there because of inconsistency with the totals.
“If there is any discrepancy on the SOP they have to find it. They cannot send me a statement of poll that is incorrect,” Surujbally declared.
He explained that the SOPs were tallied and sent to Georgetown where they were to be verified. However, the total did not match and the statements had to be sent back for another check by the officers, who, in addition to party agents, had to sign off to the tallies.
“We have a process,” the GECOM Chairman said.
Surujbally pointed out that when the SOPs reach GECOM in Georgetown, they are logged, verified by the commissioners and scanned to ensure that there is another copy of the statement.
Afterwards, the tallies are sent to GECOM’s data entry unit to be entered into the database and further verified, and then the information is sent to the media centre to be disseminated as preliminary results.

Surujbally maintained that the commission has sufficient capacity to ensure that the data is tabulated and disseminated.
He lauded the work of the commissioners, adding that much is being done to ensure that there are no inefficiencies.
“One might say we are overdoing things…at the same time the record that is verified at different levels is very important,” Surujbally said.
He acknowledged that Guyanese are anxious for the results, but reiterated that GECOM is being thorough.   
Surujbally noted that GECOM could have allowed its staffers to telephone in the numbers, as party agents have done, to inform their leaders, but for the commission only the SOP is counted.
“There are those who telephone in the data. We cannot do that…we will not do that. The hard copy for us is what counts…a telephone call is not something we can accept,” the GECOM Chairman said.
“We are fully operational and I am very pleased with the work,” Surujbally said.