PNM Arima Northeast Local Government Election candidate Kim Garcia, left, is embraced by D’Abadie/O’Meara MP Lisa Morris-Julian, after a second recount of Garcia’s contest at the Upper Malabar Community Centre on Thursday concluded that she won against the UNC’s Jairzinho Rigsby by one vote. – Angelo Marcelle
POST local government elections bacchanal continued on Thursday when the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) said the PNM won the Arima Northeast district which falls under the Arima Borough Corporation.
In the August 14 local government elections, the PNM and UNC each received 625 votes in the district.
On August 15, the UNC requested a recount.
That recount gave the UNC 624 votes to the PNM’s 623.
The EBC accepted a request from the PNM for a second recount.
A statement issued by the EBC on Thursday said the PNM’s candidate Kim Magdalene Garcia received two additional votes in a second recount of votes in the district.
“This result overturns the outcome of the recount, which was conducted during the period August 16-17, 2023 and saw the UNC candidate Jairzinho Domingo Gustav Rigsby being declared the winner.”
The results of the second recount gave the PNM 625 votes while the UNC got 624.
The EBC said this recount was conducted by Asst Chief Election Officer Pamela Ogiste in accordance with Election Rule 106(1) of the Representation of the People’s Act.
In both recounts, the Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP), which also contested the district, got 81 votes.
The PNM hailed the EBC’s announcement as a victory.
PNM general secretary Foster Cummings said, “The party accepts the results as announced by the EBC for the electoral district of Arima Northeast.”
He extended the PNM’s congratulations to Madgalene Garcia.
Other senior PNM officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, expected Madgalene Garcia to be sworn in with other councillors of the Arima Borough Corporation at the Arima Town Hall on Friday at 10 am.
Should the results of the second recount hold, the PNM will hold all seven seats in the corporation.
Up to press time, there was no official response from the UNC to the second Arima Northeast recount.
Sources said the party was consulting with its lawyers and waiting for word from them before making an official comment.
On Monday, the UNC initiated legal action against the EBC after two recounts failed to break an electoral tie in the Lengua/Indian Walk district.
Preliminary results in the elections showed the PNM candidate the Rev Autly Granthume winning the district 1,430 to 1,425 over his UNC rival Nicole Gopaul. This would have given the PNM a presence on the PTRC it has not had since 1996-1999, when Godfrey Lee Sing was councillor for Moruga.
On August 15, the UNC requested a recount of the votes in the district.
On August 16, the recount resulted in the PNM and UNC being tied with 1,428 votes each.
In a statement, the EBC said a second recount would be done on August 17.
Should repeated recounts fail to resolve an electoral tie, the deadlock can be broken through the application of Election Rule 101 (15) of the Representation of the People Act, which says where the recount results in a tie, the election is to be declared void and a new election held as soon as possible.
The second recount continued on August 18.
In a statement on August 18, the EBC said the second recount ended in a tie. As a result, the commission’s returning officer for Lengua/Indian Walk has declared the election result in the district void.
Newsday understands that Ogiste also conducted the second recount in Lengua/Indian Walk.
The commission said once this is certified by chief election officer Fern Narcis-Scope, a fresh election can take place.
However, the UNC has insisted the situation could be resolved by accepting one vote deemed invalid by the EBC because it had not been initialled by an EBC official. The ballot also lacks a polling station number
This is the essence of the legal action commenced by the UNC on Monday..
Last week, Princes Town MP Barry Padarath said once the rejected vote is validated, it resolve the tie in the UNC’s favour.