Having served in the Tobago House of Assembly, I should know the answer to this, but sadly I do not. What happens if the upcoming THA elections end in a 6-6 tie? (Word on the street is that this is a distinct possibility.)

As far as I am aware, the first order of business after the 12 elected members have been sworn in is to elect a presiding officer.

However, I cannot remember seeing anything in the act that says what happens if candidates vying for the position of presiding officer receive the same number of votes, making it impossible to fill the position.

This is unlike what obtains for the positions of the chief secretary and deputy chief secretary, where there will be a second round of voting if each candidate vying for the respective positions initially receives the same number of votes.

If there is another tie in the second round of voting, then the presiding officer has a casting vote.

Additionally, in accordance with the advice of the chief secretary and minority leader, the presiding officer is responsible for the appointment of the four councillors (three by the chief secretary, and one by the minority leader).

This underscores the importance of the presiding officer’s role.

Indeed, nothing else can happen if a presiding officer is not elected.

Therefore, it is shocking (I hope someone can enlighten me otherwise) that there are no provisions to address a tie in the voting for that position.

I hate to think this will result in a return to the polls. If it does, it means no lessons were learned from the 18-18 tie in the general election in 2001 and the subsequent remedial action.

Even if a tie does not occur this time, it’s likely it will at some time; consequently, steps should be taken now to deal with this eventuality, and not wait until it happens to look for a solution.

Claude A Job

via e-mail

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