WEDNESDAY’S recount of the votes cast at the General and Regional Elections, saw 86 ballots from a single Polling Station in Sophia, Georgetown being deemed rejected – 83 from the General Elections and three (3) for the Regional Elections.
The records show that on March 2, 2020, 184 electors from a list of 256 turned up to vote at Sophia Nursery School, Poll Station 4549. But of the 184 ballots cast, only 101 were deemed valid for the General Elections, the other 83 were rejected.
According to the Observation Report, which was generated, of the rejected ballots, 82 were rejected “for want of official mark,” meaning it lacked the official six digit stamp. The other rejected ballot was marked for more than one Party List of Candidates.
The report, which was seen by the Guyana Chronicle, indicated that 69 of the rejected ballots were marked in favour of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) while 12 were marked in favour of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).
For the Regional Elections, there were 182 valid votes cast, and three ballots within Ballot Box 4549, which were deemed rejected – two because of the absence of the official six digit stamp and another because it was marked in favour of more than one List of Candidates.
“It was noted by the APNU+AFC agent that the rejected ballots for want of official mark, the extra official mark was seen on the Regional Part of the Ballot,” a section of the Observation Report read.
It is believed that the error was on the part of the Assistant Presiding Officer (APO), who reportedly folded the ballots incorrectly resulting in only part of the ballots being stamped.
The alarming number of rejected ballots for want of an official mark was among issues raised with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) by the APNU+AFC.
During her most recent press conference on Monday, GECOM Public Relations Officer, Yolanda Ward said there were 1,536 rejected ballots for the General Elections based on the five Electoral Districts for which Certificates of District Tabulation have been generated. The rejected ballots for the Regional Elections totaled 1,927.
Ward explained that a ballot is deemed rejected “for want of official mark, which is the stamp, unmarked or void of uncertainty, marked for more than one party List of Candidates, or mark so that the Elector can be identified.”
“Anything within those categories is what constitutes a rejected ballot,” she added.
While Ward was able to provide a breakdown of the ballots rejected thus far based on the five regions certified, she was unable to indicate how many of those ballots were unstamped. There have been cases in which half of the ballot was stamped and the other half unstamped. According to her, the Commission is still deliberating on how it will treat with the ballots that were partially stamped.
“At this point I can’t say where they are at with their discussion,” Ward said while noting that there is a concern that some of the unstamped ballots may be that of members of the Disciplined Services. The Disciplined Services – members of the Guyana Police Force, Guyana Defence Force and Guyana Prison Service – voted 10 days ahead of E-Day.