Lowenfield initiated use of spreadsheets in tabulation exercise without approval from GECOM- Gunraj asserts

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Government-appointed GECOM Commissioner, Sase Gunraj

Further revelations coming out of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the March 2020 General and Regional Elections are pointing to Keith Lowenfield’s failure to consult the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) before deciding to replace Statements of Poll (SOPs) with Spreadsheets during the tabulation exercise in an effort to “speed up the process.” 

In Thursday’s sitting of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, GECOM Commissioner, Sase Gunraj told commissioners that former Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield was aware of GECOM’s agreed position that only Statements of Poll should be utilized during the tabulation process long before the elections were called. However, on March 4, 2020, at the Ashmins Building, Lowenfield took it upon himself to initiate the use of spreadsheets without consulting GECOM’s Chairman and the other commissioners.  

Gunraj explained that when it was observed that spreadsheets were employed for the tabulation of votes, the Chairman of GECOM, Retired Justice of Appeal Claudette Singh convened a meeting where the commission reasserted its position on the use of SOPs by a majority vote. 

He detailed that instructions were given to Lowenfield during the meeting to revert to the SOP process.  

“A direct instruction was given to the CEO who was part of the meeting, a part of the discussion, and participated in the deliberation leading to that decision,” Gunraj stated. 

Lowenfield told participants of the meeting that the spreadsheets were being used to expedite the tabulation process, Gunraj divulged. 

The commissions of the COI inquired whether there were any meeting notes or records but Gunraj said he could not recall. He underscored that Lowenfield was responsible for ensuring that the decisions of GECOM were executed during the elections. 

The COI further asked whether the Representation of the People Act (ROPA) provides for the verification of Statements of Poll by Statements of Poll, Gunraj’s response was affirmative. The GECOM commissioner maintained that Lowenfield did not provide any reasonable explanation for breaching the election laws. 

Thursday marks day nine of the COI’s sitting. Several witnesses have since taken a stand to recount the events of the March 2, 2020 elections.

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