Political Leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah said yesterday the party is seriously concerned about the special ballots situation as “some ten electoral districts in which our candidates are contesting were affected by this development”.
He said the MSJ met with the EBC commissioners about three weeks ago, and they assured them that everything was in place for a smooth and efficient conduct of the elections.
“This is disturbing because it would seem as if some returning officers did not follow proper procedures or did not adhere to instructions or regulations as the case may be, and this would suggest some major deficiency in terms of the training or the communication within the EBC,” he said.
Abdulah said the MSJ hopes the commission uses this period between now and polling day to make sure there is repeated proper communication and double-checking of the competence of the presiding officers to ensure there is no problem with the conduct of the election.
He said the MSJ did not ask EBC to witness the destruction of the ballots.
“Our understanding is that the ballots that were defective or rendered defective, if they appeared in the balloting at all on election day, they could be spotted in the count and, therefore, there is a way of verifying that they don’t get back into the system,” he said.
COP leader: It’s alarming
Congress of the People (COP) leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan said this matter was “alarming” as it affects almost 30 per cent of all the electoral districts.
She noted the EBC had said proper procedures were not followed, and this speaks to the integrity of the EBC system itself.
“What is the root cause of them not being able to follow the prescribed procedure? If there were other limitations, it speaks to the integrity of the entire system,” she said.
Seepersad-Bachan said she hopes the EBC would be able to remedy this issue.
She said she is concerned about the rush by which the EBC will have to deal with this problem while working to ensure the integrity of the process remains intact and there is trust and confidence in the elections on December 2.
Lee Sing troubled
Leader of the Port of Spain People’s Movement (PPM) Louis Lee Sing said when he looked at the list of affected districts, “it troubled me a whole heap”.
He said the EBC is one of the few institutions people have confidence in, and “to know that this is happening on the eve of a local government election, one in which the incumbent Government party is campaigning with a kind of aggressiveness, suggests to me that this is not helping us”.
He said the PPM is new and contesting the Port of Spain districts, which thankfully he has not seen on the affected list.
“But, I repeat and reiterate, this is a serious matter; it places the EBC in an awkward position at a time when we need to have confidence in it, and it is not well for the democratic process in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
PNM has full confidence
PNM general secretary Senator Foster Cummings said the PNM has full confidence the EBC will resolve this issue.
“We will monitor the situation. We are confident the EBC will correct this situation in accordance with the election rules outlined in the Representation of the People Act Chap 2:1. We have full confidence in the EBC to address and correct this issue, and we are assured by the EBC that everything will be in place to facilitate special voters within the specified time frame,” he said.