Irregular Tuesday at GECOM

first_imgDear Editor,The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is again unavailable, reminiscent of his unavailability on Nomination Day. Whispers by persons not wishing to be quoted reveal that he has gone to court, but which court? Calls to his mobile phone go unanswered.So, I call Mr Anil Nandlall who appears in both matters filed in Georgetown and Berbice, only to find out that the Berbice matter is being heard at 14:00h so I conclude that that is where the CEO has gone apparently since morning. No one can say that he was at work earlier.There is a hive of activity in the compound. The printed ballots have arrived and boxes are being opened as they have been since 2 pm yesterday all through the night up to almost 4 am. The newly sworn-in DCEO is ostensibly supervising, although she seems somewhat out of her league, and ballots are being extracted as per constituencies, in all 80 Local Authority Areas (LAAs). Scrutineers from the PPP/C have been present throughout the exercise yesterday and today they have been joined by scrutineers from other stakeholders. The Auditor, Malika Gibson, from all reports, seems to have her act together and is doing a good job.Otherwise, an onlooker can be forgiven for describing the whole exercise as chaotic. The activity is in preparation for the enveloping of ballots for members of the Disciplined Services – Army, Police and Prison – who are listed to vote on D-day which is November 2, 2018, and amazingly, as of 1:30 pm today, the lists are yet to be shared with the stakeholders contesting the LGE! And there are people who still wonder why there is no trust in GECOM’s ability to get it right!The exercise is being conducted using a list of ballot stations and the numbers of persons from each constituency of each LAA, so the ballots are being extracted from the sealed boxes as per the numbers on that list.Commissioner Benn, having witnessed the chaos last night, and not getting any kind of positive reaction from the DCEO, left to acquire some box cutters to help speed up the opening of the sealed boxes. I hope he is able to recover the money he spent. GECOM has nippers, acquired in a less than transparent process, but no box cutters! The Commissioner had lent them a knife last night.We assemble for the statutory meeting of the Commission at 1 pm, the Chairman, whom I am informed, signed his contract just last week, comes in at 1:22 pm to say that his clock had stopped, hence his late arrival to the meeting room from his office less than 50 metres away, and apologises profusely, before he realises that there is no CEO, no scribe to take minutes, and, in fact, no support staff from the secretariat. He looks lost until I say that the CEO is ostensibly in Berbice, along with the Legal Officer, and this is hearsay from me, since I only knew that the Berbice matter was being heard at 2 pm. No official communication has been made to us as Commissioners and apparently neither to the Chairman if I am to go by his bewilderment! We tell the Chairman that Malika Gibson, who normally fills in when the Legal Officer is absent, did come up, but we all thought that her presence was crucial for the exercise being conducted outside, so all the Commissioners told her to go back so that that exercise would not be adversely affected by her absence.So the Commission meeting becomes a half-hour gaff, for which no notes are taken, and during this period, Commissioner Corbin with input from Commissioner Gunraj sought to give an oral report of their attendance in Calgary for the printing of the ballot papers and other sensitive election forms, eg, statements of polls. The report seemed to reveal some kind of non-uniformity with three of those forms, so I asked for a written report, which will hopefully tell all and which can be discussed at the next statutory meeting of the Commission.Meanwhile, it is agreed that the Operations sub-committee will meet every day at 3 pm and as often as necessary in an emergency. The whole Commission is also to be kept informed via email.The ‘gaff’, as I call, it ended at 2:00 pm. So, that is all I have for this week, folks, until next Tuesday, which, of course, will be the day after D-day. It is my plan to visit as many ballot stations as I can, to observe the process. My fellow Commissioners, I am sure, have similar plans.Sincerely,Bibi Safora ShadickGECOMCommissionerlast_img read more