Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired Justice Claudette Singh has dispatched several documents containing cases of alleged voter impersonation at the last elections to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Office of the Commissioner of Police for verification.
The APNU+AFC has long argued that while the Elections Commission in an attempt to verify the party’s claims of voter impersonation had submitted a small list of names to the Registrar General and Chief Immigration Officer for verification, it did not follow-up on additional claims.
It appears that the Elections Commission is now taking steps to so do.
In a correspondence on Wednesday afternoon, the GECOM Chair informed the six Election Commissioners that her decision to seek clarification was in response to a letter sent from the APNU+AFC.
She told the Commissioners that she dispatched the documents in respect of the claims made in relation persons who are alleged to have voted on March 2, 2020, being either deceased or out of the jurisdiction, to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Office of the Commissioner of Police for the purpose of verification” .
In the letter to the Elections Commission on September 20, 2022, APNU+AFC’s Chief Scrutineer, Carool Smith-Joseph restated the coalition’s claims.
“We are aware that only a small number of our submission was forwarded to the Guyana Police Force (the Immigration Office) for verification. We are also aware that the GPF has returned to GECOM its findings. Those findings clearly provide evidence of significant voter impersonation. Despite the far-reaching implications of this evidence, GECOM has failed in its constitutional duty to complete the verification exercise and to complete its own investigation of the matter,” Ms Smith-Joseph told the Commission.
Against that background, the coalition’s chief scrutineer called on GECOM to forward all information received from the coalition to the Guyana Police Force and GRO for verification. The coalition also asked that the findings be made public.
The coalition’s Chief Scrutineer also made a case for Elections Commission to “restart the internal probe into the matter.”
However, while the Election Commission has submitted the documents for verification, its Public Relations Officer (PRO) Yolanda Ward, in a press statement on Wednesday, said GECOM has no authority to conduct internal investigations into allegations of electoral fraud.
Ward said under the Constitution, only the High Court can determine whether the election was lawfully conducted.
“In this regard, it is of crucial importance to note that Article 163 (1) b (i) of the Constitution of Guyana stipulates that “subject to the provisions of this article, the High Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to determine any question whether – either generally or in any particular place, an election has been lawfully conducted or the result thereof has been or might have been, affected by any unlawful act or omission,”” GECOM spokeswoman explained.
Ward confirmed that during the National Recount, APNU+AFC submitted names of persons, who were allegedly either deceased or out of the jurisdiction on Elections Day. According to her, those names were sent to the Registrar General and Chief Immigration Officer respectively for verification during the National Recount.
Ward said there is nothing more GECOM could do.
“… notwithstanding this action having been taken, GECOM could not have taken any further action in this matter, since to do so would have been in contravention of Article 163 of the Constitution,” the Spokeswoman said.
However, based on the correspondence between the Chairman and the Election Commissioners, it would appear that additional verification is being sought from the Home Affairs Ministry and the Office of the Police Commissioner, who is the Chief Immigration Officer.