The polls closed at 6p.m. The vote count has begun.
Some 1,079,969 electors were eligible to go to the polls to elect 139 councillors to serve in the 14 municipal corporations in Trinidad.
In the last local government election, the PNM won 83 electoral districts while the UNC won 54.
What will change tonight? What percentage of the electorate voted.
And how will affect the general election in 2020?
There were discrepancies reported in several locations, but none that caused major issues.
There were allegations of People’s National Movement (PNM) canvassing and unlawful practices in Chaguanas in have been made by United National Congress (UNC) Senator Saddam Hosein.
And according to the UNC’s Politicla Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar “We have had several examples in which it seems that the EBC officials have not been consistent in their application of the law: while over 130 Returning Officers allowed persons wearing similar coloured green t-shirts to access the polling station as Polling Agents, in at least two separate reported instances, the UNC’s polling agents were prohibited because the Returning Officer felt that the green colour was too close to yellow (in one electoral district in SGRC and in another in DMRC). Our attorneys and coordinators were forced to step in to resolve the matter.
There are multiple instances in which Polling Agents scheduled to work today at Poll Stations were reportedly approached by persons representing another political party and offered inducements to stand down. However, I am pleased to advise that our polling agents remain committed and have turned out to work today.
I am also aware that another party is using vehicles to transport personnel in the Boroughs and Cities which have EBC stickers issued by the Police. Our lawyers have advised that this is not in keeping with the Representation of the People Act which, at the third schedule advises the regional municipalities and the ratio of cars permissible.
We also have reports of a PNM candidate blocking voters from exercising their democratic rights and this has been reported to the police.
And the Movement for Social Justice is calling on the EBC to investigate “irregularities” claimed to have occurred this morning at polling stations in Hollywood and Cap de Ville in Point Fortin.
Election officer for the executive of the MSJ, Ernesto Kesar, told members of the media that an election agent for the candidate for Hollywood, Garnett Thompson, was not allowed entry into the polling station at the Fanny Village Government School.
The EBC also had to respond to a statement by UNC candidate Anil Jetram that he was told he would be allowed to vote twice.
The EBC said there is provision in law for special candidates to vote twice says the Elections and Boundaries Commission.
EBC communications manager Bobbi Roger told the Express a person can vote twice but there is a process to follow first before that happens.
She cited Section 13 E of the Representation of the People’s Act which speaks directly to the qualification of electors.
Rogers said the elector can vote in the Municipal district in which he has a business or if that business is ten miles of the city or borough corporation.
However, Rogers explained that such a person would have to make an application to the Chief Elections Officer.
This provision is only applicable for Local Government election and not for the general election.
In Juteram’s case, he did not apply and therefore cannot vote twice.
Voting in the 2019 local government election took place at 2,107 polling stations.
In total, there were 339 candidates, 25 more than there were in the 2016 local government election.
Six political parties participating — the United National Congress (UNC) and People’s National Movement (PNM) contesting all 139 seats, while the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), Congress of the People (COP), Port of Spain People’s Movement (PPM), National Transformation Party and eight independents will contest selected seats.
There were two more seats in this local government poll than there were in the November 28, 2016 poll.
Battleground corporations: Sangre Grande, Siparia
There are two regional corporations which have aroused particular interest.
In the Sangre Grande Corporation, where there are eight seats, the PNM controls four and the UNC four.
Among the PNM’s four is the marginal seat of Sangre Grande North West, which had been won by 40 votes in 2016.
Among the UNC’s four seats, Cumuto/Tamana was won by 276 votes and is therefore also considered marginal.
The PNM currently controls the Corporation by virtue of the fact that in 2016, it held the chairmanship and the chairman has an original vote and casting vote in the event of any tie.
The use of the casting vote has allowed the PNM to maintain its control of the Corporation and if the PNM ends up with four seats again, it would retain control.
The UNC therefore needs to wrestle one seat from the PNM, as well as maintain control of its four seats, to seize control of the Corporation.
The PNM is hoping to improve its showing in Sangre Grande by taking one of the UNC seats.
The other interesting contest will take place in Siparia.
The Siparia Regional Corporation has nine seats. The UNC holds five, while the PNM has four, but a boundary change in one of the UNC seats may have given the PNM an advantage, which the PNM needs since one of its seats had been won by 88 votes in 2016.
Both sides think they have a good chance of controlling this Corporation, and with the Opposition Leader being the MP for Siparia, the result might have symbolic as well as political meaning.
The UNC gained control of all 14 seats in the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Corporation and the majority of seats in the Princes Town, Siparia, Mayaro/Rio Claro, Chaguanas and Penal/Debe Corporations.
The PNM gained control of all nine seats in the San Fernando Corporation, all 12 seats in the Port of Spain Corporation, all seven in the Arima Corporation, all six in the Point Fortin Corporation, all ten seats in the Diego Martin Regional Corporation and held the majority of seats in the San Juan/Laventille and Tunapuna/Piarco Corporations.
Apart from that, the turnout has tended to be somewhere in the region of 23.6 to 30 per cent, in 1971, 1977, 1980, topping off at 30 per cent in 1983, to the more recent averages of 38-39 per cent in the 1987, 1992, 1999 and 2010 local government elections. Whether you are taking part in today’s poll or not, all citizens are required to observe the following electoral laws which prohibit loudspeakers, banners, favours, badges, flags, sets of colours, which can be deemed to be political propaganda; prohibit bands of music; congregating near a polling station; influencing electors to vote for any candidate; selling intoxicating liquor; engaging in illegal voting (voting more than once or voting if unqualified to do so) or impersonation (voting as some other person, whether that person is dead or fictitious).