Chief Election Officer at the Elections and Boundaries Commission Fern Narcis-Scope said yesterday it looked as though most of the recounts of votes would go into this weekend.
Asked if the process could be done more expeditiously as requested by PNM chairman Colm Imbert, Narcis-Scope said: “When one looks at the process as legislated, I am not sure there is much more that we can do. We certainly have very experienced returning officers serving at these constituencies. They are aware of their responsibilities and they have to go through the process. A full recount was requested and that means (a count of) all the ballot boxes and they have also asked for a check of the poll cards.”
In an interview on radio station i95.5FM, she said: “Full recounts tend to be a little lengthy. In terms of resources, the Commission would consider what else it could provide. But it is a process that has to be undertaken by the respective returning officer.”
Narcis-Scope said she had cause to point out that the Notice of Election which was published on July 6, detailed the date and time upon which a recount should commence, once it was requested. She said the recount was supposed to start at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
That was dictated in the Notice of Election, she said.
“We had some difficulties starting on time. Especially when one asks for a recount, you would like to think that the persons who have requested and all the parties involved in the process would be eager and anxious to get it started. We have had some delays. We have had some interruptions. And ever so often candidates (have been) going out(side) to speak to the media. “All these things delay the process and these are not small constituencies. They are large constituencies in terms of the number of boxes and a full and detailed recount would take some time. These interruptions would not have allowed for the process to move at a quicker pace,” Narcis-Scope said.
In the recount in St Joseph just 19 of the 54 ballot boxes had been counted up to yesterday.
In the recount in Tunapuna, 28 of the 51 ballot boxes were counted.
In La Horquetta/Talparo, 36 out of 53 ballot boxes were counted.
In Toco/Sangre Grande 48 out of 60 ballot boxes were recounted.
These figures were provided by EBC’s communications manager Bobbi Rogers yesterday afternoon.
Sources expected the Toco/Sangre Grande recount would have been completed last night.
There have been no major changes in the figures.
The PNM picked up ten additional votes in the recount in St Joseph, the Express was informed.
In Toco/Sangre the UNC gained 11 votes, while the PNM gained four.
There were 13 rejected ballots— four for the UNC and nine for the PNM.
This was the tally from 47 boxes.
UNC request denied
In a letter to Rhea Khan of Fortis Chambers dated August 12 (which was obtained by the Express), Narcis-Scope indicated that the UNC’s agents could not inspect the polling station diaries as well as poll cards.
The letter was in response to a letter of the same date, which complained about the conduct of the returning officer for St Joseph during the final count (recount) process.
“Specifically we understand that you are requesting as part of the final count exercise now underway to inspect polling station diaries as well as poll cards,” Narcis-Scope said.
She stated: “There is no provision in the Representation of the People Act, Chapter 2 or the Election Rules made thereunder for the candidate who has requested a final count to be permitted to inspect polling stations diaries or poll cards as part of the final count.
“The final count exercise is governed by the Election Rules and the Returning Officer and the candidate requesting same must adhere to the provisions of the Election Rules.
“In the circumstances, we are unable to accede to your request for instructions to be issued to the returning officer to do what is not authorised by the Election Rules,” Narcis-Scope stated.