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GECOM Officer instructed to use spreadsheet figures to declare 2020 elections results – COI testimony

The Commission of Inquiry into the events surrounding the March 2, 2020, general elections is currently ongoing. On Wednesday, Alexandria Sophia Bowman, an Assistant Registration Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) took the stand to answer questions pertaining to the declaration of elections results from a spreadsheet on March 4, 2020; the date on which the elections took a turn and subsequently prolonged for five months before the PPP/C was declared the winner.

Bowman revealed that she was the Officer responsible for calling the results from the upper East Bank of Demerara area at the GECOM command centre at Ashmin’s, High and Hadfield Streets. On March 4, 2020, she noted that she was instructed to call the data from a spreadsheet as opposed to the Statements of Poll which should have been used.

“When it was my turn to call, I was instructed that we won’t be calling from the SoPs anymore, that we will be calling from a spreadsheet,” she testified.

Further, she was unable to verify the numbers to guarantee that they were reflected on the SoPs.

Bowman said she was given the spreadsheet by GECOM’s Officer, Mr. Enrique Livan who in August 2020 was charged with one count of fraud relating to the elections.

On March 4, 2020, several party representatives of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic and some smaller parties which contested the elections, began raising concerns over the use of the spreadsheet.

However, Bowman said she was instructed to “keep calling” the numbers.

Asked where the SoPs were at the time, she said “I think most of the envelopes were already opened by the returning officers but they were at the back,” but no assurance was given that she would be able to refer to the SoPs to grant the much-needed clarification.

Further questioned on if the then ruling party, APNU+AFC, was objecting to the figures, she responded in the negative.

Following concerns raised about the spreadsheet and the elections results in Region Four, the events on March 4, 2020, served as a starting point for the events which lasted five months, including one full recount before the process concluded on August 2, 2020, with the PPP/C declared winner of the polls.

The presidential CoI seeks to, among other things, enquire into and report upon the relevant circumstances and events leading up to, and the procedures following, the General and Regional Elections.

It will also investigate what attempts, if any, were made to obstruct, frustrate, subvert, and prevent a decision of the Guyana Elections Commission made on the 14th day of March 2020, to conduct a national recount of the votes polled at the General and Regional Elections from being executed and implemented…including inquiring into:

  • The conduct of the Chief Election Officer, other Elections Officers, and others in respect of the discharge and execution of the statutory duties of the Chief Election Officer prescribed by the ROPA Act.
  • The commission is to make such recommendations as the Commission deems fit and necessary to permit the Guyana Elections Commission to discharge its statutory functions as prescribed by ROPA… in a manner which is impartial, fair, and compliant with the Constitution and relevant legislation and to make any other recommendations which the Commission deems appropriate having regard to the law and to any evidence which may be presented.

The commissioners include Chairperson, Attorney General, High Court Judge, and Acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean, Godfrey P. Smith, S.C., Retired Justice of Appeal, Stanley John, and former Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Carl Singh. The Commission of Inquiry was established by President Dr. Irfaan Ali, and is expected to spend approximately seven months investigating the events of the March 2, 2020, General and Regional elections.