The UNC is doing everything possible to delay and frustrate the recount process.
Therefore, the PNM has written to the Elections and Boundaries chairman Mark Ramkerrysingh placing on record its deep concern about the demands being made by losing candidates.
This along with what the PNM says are late arrivals of representatives of the UNC, requests to leave early by UNC representatives and general disruptions to the count by UNC representatives, all of which are being engaged in to unduly delay the final count process.
“We are also aware of attempts to harass Returning Officers by persons who purport to be associated with losing candidates and we urge the EBC to take every precaution to protect its staff and the integrity of the vote counting process,” PNM chairman Colm Imbert said in the letter dated August 13, 2020.
Imbert also pointed to Rule 101 of the Election Rules which states that the recount is to be carried out in “a fair, careful, efficient and expeditious manner”.
He said it must be borne in mind that there is a government in waiting.
Speaking at a news conference at the PNM’s Balisier House headquarters in Port of Spain yesterday called to discuss the “behaviour of the Opposition”, Imbert said: “They (the UNC) have gone so far as to question the signatures of the Presiding Officers on the envelopes, the initials of the Deputy Presiding Officer on the back of the ballot... It is so ridiculous... I understand (the UNC) have been asking for specimen signatures... They have them, they already have knowledge of the signatures of the EBC officials yet they want to get them again. There is one losing (UNC) candidate, he can’t see the initials. Everybody else in the room could see the initials but he (the UNC candidate) can’t see,” Imbert said.
“The UNC are also demanding to see documents that they are not entitled to see...They want to see the station diary, the binder, the photographs of every voter. And I just got an astonishing report from our people in St Joseph that today, they are querying every single ballot... So in St Joseph today not a single ballot box has been completed. Each constituency would have approximately 60 ballot boxes,” he said. “If they go like that, it would take two months.”
He said: “In Sangre Grande, the person the UNC sent was so ridiculous, the person said the X must be dead centre between the top line and the bottom line. And that is not in the law.”
He said once the intention of the vote is clear, the ballot is accepted.
“As a result, in six hours in Grande, they counted one box.”
Imbert said this was his ninth election and he had never experienced this.
He said when the PNM loses it puts its tail between its legs but whenever the UNC loses it looks for a reason to challenge the electoral process.
No stolen ballot boxes
Imbert said it had gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.
The UNC was alleging that in St Joseph and Tunapuna, police officers from St Joseph and Tunapuna stole two ballot boxes and hid them in the Tunapuna Police Station, Imbert stated.
Imbert said he asked Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to investigate this report.
“And I got this report back from the CoP. The CoP said as soon as he received the allegations, he instructed Supt Montrichard attached to the Tunapuna Station to conduct a thorough and comprehensive search of the entire Tunapuna Police Station... No ballot boxes were found hidden or secured on the station compound,” he said.
He said the CoP also communicated with ASP Glouden at the St Joseph Returning Centre to confirm with the Returning Officer whether any ballot boxes were found to be missing.
“The Returning Officer indicated that all ballot boxes for that location were present, on site and accounted for,” he said.
PM had no inside information
Imbert also said the notion that the PNM Leader, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had some sort of “inside information” about the election result was “absolute nonsense”.
“It is a lie,” he said.
Imbert said every candidate for every political party is entitled to have a polling agent who is present in every polling station in every polling division, in every constituency, who is entitled to monitor and scrutinise the voting process.
This polling agent takes a record of every single voter, who has voted, their name and their consecutive number.
When the ballots are counted, they are displayed to the polling agents.
“So the PNM polling agent and the UNC polling agent in every single polling station in every polling division, in every constituency, when the count begins and they open the box and start counting ballots, the ballot is displayed for the individual polling agent of each political party to scrutinise. And the person doing the count, whether it is the Returning Officer or another EBC official will indicate which person (candidate) the vote was cast for, while displaying the ballot,” Imbert said.
He said at the end of the count, each polling agent in each polling station in each division, is given a sheet, Form 69, which is a “Statement of the Poll”, which he/she signs.
This form states the number of ballots cast for each candidate, the total number of ballots in the box, the destroyed ballots, spoiled ballots and unused ballots as well as the number of special ballots, suspect ballots and questioned ballots, the number of poll cards and the number of names on the official list of electors at that polling station.
The form is signed by the Presiding Officer and all the polling agents of every candidate to certify that the information is correct and each agent is given a copy of this form.
“The point I am making is that by 10 p.m. on Monday night Balisier House had the results of each of the 41 constituencies based on this method which has been in existence for over 60 years,” he said.
He said this was how the PNM leader was aware of the results “because every constituency was calling in to Balisier House indicating what the vote count was”.
He said Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar would have known the results at the same time because all the UNC polling agents got the document (Statement of Poll) at the same time.
Imbert said it was “very deceitful” of the UNC to pretend that they didn’t know what the results were or to pretend to their supporters that they did not know that they had lost the election and to pretend that they didn’t know that they had lost the popular vote.
On the issue of the alleged poll cards that were found in bushes in Arima, Imbert said it was very convenient that a former UNC minister found poll cards in the bush.
The population is expected to believe that if someone was going to commit some type of fraud and they somehow got their hands on people’s poll cards they would throw them in the bush and the former MP and former UNC minister would be the only man who knew about these poll cards, he said.