GECOM’s Assistant Registration Officer recalls that during the tabulation exercise at Ashmins building on March 4, 2020 she was not permitted to compare spreadsheet and SOPs data despite political parties opposing the numbers

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Former GECOM Staff, Michelle Miller

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Assistant Registration Officer, Alexandra Bowman, reported on Wednesday that she was instructed to use electronic spreadsheets rather than the Statements of Poll to call out the numbers for the Upper East Bank subdistrict she was assigned to on March 4, 2020 during the tubulation of the Region Four ballots.

According to Bowman, the directive came from either Clairmont Mingo, the Region Four Returning Officer, or his assistant, Michelle Miller. 

“When it was my turn to call, I was instructed that we would not be calling from the SOPs, we will be calling from a spreadsheet… I cannot recall clearly who give the instruction but it would have either been Mr. Mingo if he was still there or Ms. Miller,” she said. 

Bowman informed that the commission of inquiry that she complied with the instruction and upon assuming her position to call out the numbers, GECOM’s Information Technology officer, Enrique Livan began asking the other GECOM staff for a flashdrive to upload the spreadsheet. However, none was forthcoming so she decided to provide him with her own flashdrive, on which the spreadsheet was stored.

She explained that the GECOM staff who gave the order claimed that the spreadsheet would guarantee that the tabulation process is transparent. Bowman stated that she then advised using a projector to show the spreadsheet, but the projectors that were acquired were defective. 

She said that while reading out the numbers from the spreadsheet, she was not given the chance or any assurance that she would be able to consult the SOPs if the values didn’t match.

She noted that agents of the People’s Progressive Party Civil (PPP/C) consistently objected to the numbers she was announcing, claiming that they did not match the SOPs they had in their possession. In spite of the objections, Bowman asserted that Miller gave her the go-ahead to finish her assignment. 

“She told me to keep calling,” Bowman stated. 

Party representatives began shouting in outrage at the discrepancy in the figures. According to Bowman the former Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers and Chairman of GECOM, retired Justice Claudette Singh subsequently came to the tabulation room to ask about her wellbeing since she was heavily pregnant at the time. She said she told them that she would have to stop the procedure since she was not feeling well, and she later departed the building. 

Bowman also reported to the commission that she saw the SOPs arriving in yellow envelopes at the Ashmins building’s back of the tabulation room. They were then removed from the envelopes and set in front of several clerical assistants who were entering data into computers. She admitted that she couldn’t remember if the data being entered into the computer had come directly from the SOPs.

The Assistant Registration Officer, who has been with GECOM for ten years, claims that she has never seen the usage of spreadsheets in the tabulation process during her time there.

Bowman still hasn’t been able to retrieve her flashdrive two years later. She claimed that after asking about it, another member of the GECOM staff informed her that it was now considered “evidence” and as a result, she could not get it back

Alexandra Bowman

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