An Assistant Registration Officer (ARO) at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) testified before the Elections Commission of Inquiry today that while at first in the Command Centre, the electoral clerks were calling out the number of votes cast in favour of the various political parties from the Statements of Poll (SOPs), they were eventually instructed to start using a spreadsheet that was provided to them.
The Assistant Registration Officer, Alexandra Bowman told the Commission that a spreadsheet with the results was handed to her on a flash-drive by the Commission’s IT Officer, Enrique Livan.
“When it was my turn to call, I was instructed that we wouldn’t be calling from the SOPs anymore, we will be calling from a spreadsheet,” she told the Commission.
The official said she could not recall who handed down the instructions for the use of the spreadsheet as against the use of the statements of poll.
She said she agreed to follow the instruction but recommended that projectors be used to complement the process.
“They told us that we needed to call from the spreadsheet, and they wanted to make it transparent, so I recommended that we use a projector to get the numbers up on the wall so that the parties can follow along,” she recalled.
However, though they secured two projectors, the numbers were not clearly visible. Ms Bowman told the Commission that it was not long after she started to call the numbers from the spreadsheet that the main opposition at the time – the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) started to object to some of the numbers being called, claiming that they did not correspond with the statements of poll that the party agents had in their possession.
The GECOM Officer said despite the objections, was instructed by the Deputy Returning Officer to continue the process.
The Assistant Registration Officer testified that an argument erupted between agents from the APNU+AFC and the PPP and it was during that uproar that she was hit. She was pregnant at the time.
She said after the Chairman of GECOM and the then Deputy Chief Election Officer inquired about her well-being and she complained about being ill, she was allowed to be relieved of her duties.
Meanwhile, Deputy Returning Officer Michelle Miller, during her appearance before the Commission today, invoked her constitutional right to remain silent. Ms Miller is among GECOM staff members still facing charges in the Courts related to the elections.