EBC to investigate UNC special voter concerns

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Voters at St Mary’s Anglican School in Tacarigua. – File photo

THE Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) said it will investigate a complaint from the Opposition UNC about alleged irregularities during special voting in the local government elections.

A total number of 13, 284 special electors are eligible to vote in the August 14 local government elections. These people began voting on August 7. They will vote until Sunday and will not be allowed to vote on Monday.

Election Rule 59 of the Representation of the People Act, Chap 2:01 identifies the categories of persons who are in law, eligible to be treated as special electors.”

Special electors include members of the police service; members of the defence force; special reserve and estate police officers; members of the EBC; election candidates or their spouses in the electoral district that the candidate is registered in; election agents or sub-agents in the electoral district they are registered in; patients in public or private hospitals, inmates in a public institution, members of the flight crew of an aircraft and people engaged in offshore petroleum operations or a person or member of any other organisation, the EBC seets fit.

In a statement sent via Whatsapp to Newsday on Saturday, the commission said it was aware of public comments made by UNC PRO Dr Kirk Meighoo on this matter.

But the EBC said, “The Chief Election Officer (CEO) has not received any formal correspondence from the UNC requesting an investigation. However, the issues highlighted in the (UNC) release will be addressed by the CEO.”

The EBC has allowed representatives of all political parties contesting the elections to be present when ballots from additional special polling stations were being sorted for distribution to various electoral districts.

In the UNC’s release, Meighoo said the party’s representatives claimed that certain irregularities were detected and raised with the commission during the process which took place on at Queens Hall, Port of Spain on Friday

“In the first instance, the seals on certain ballot boxes appeared to be broken prior to arrival at the facility.”

Meighoo said these boxes came from th EBC’s office on Circular Road, San Fernando.

” This makes it even more critical that an urgent investigation take place, since the substantial number of ballots contained in those boxes compared to other stations can significantly impact the outcome of the election in any given electoral district.”

Meighoo said the UNC detected another irregularity at he Sangre Grande Police Station where ballots were allegedly not packed according to standard procedure.

“The deviation from procedure by persons employed or appointed by the EBC to carry out election duties casts a long shadow of doubt over the integrity of the process.”

Meighoo called on EBC CEO Fern Narcis-Scope to investigate this matter and “give an account to the population before the takin of the poll on Monday August 14.”

He said it is “imperative that persons wishing to exercise their franchise on Monday are able to do so with the assurance that the free, fair and insulated from interference.”