September 10, 2021
VALENTINE Grimes, the Progressive Liberal Party's Deputy National Coordinator, has highlighted what he calls serious problems with Thursday's advanced polls in a letter to Acting Parliamentary Commissioner Lavado Duncanson.
“Despite best efforts of election agents, a number of irregularities occurred which if not properly addressed, will call into question the integrity of our voting process,” he wrote. “The resolution of these matters is in the best interests of all candidates and yourself. On September 17th, every candidate should express confidence in the outcome of the elections. Your role in this process should not be the subject of negative comments.”
Mr Duncanson did not respond to The Tribune’s calls and requests for an interview yesterday.
Mr Grimes wrote: “We have spoken to the FNM national coordinator, Dr Nigel Lewis, and he agrees that the presence of two agents in the polling station would have diminished, if not eliminated, a number of unfortunate errors made by presiding officers. We will highlight two examples of irregularities which are preventable with two agents in the polling place. In one constituency, more than twenty ballots were cast before our agent noticed that the presiding officer was writing something improper on the back of the ballots; in one constituency, a presiding officer signed ballots and left them in the custody of others and left the polling place.”
Mr Grimes said in both these cases, unintentional but serious errors could have been prevented if election agents were allowed to scrutinise the process more.
“When we met with you about one week ago, we expressed the significant roles to be played by elections agents and the need to have sufficient election agents for them to be effective,” he wrote. “We again repeat the need for two election agents to protect the integrity of the voting process and the reputation of your office even though each candidate is entitled to have three agents.”
“Another matter that needs your immediate and urgent attention is the handling of ballots. Yesterday, there were complaints from all political parties that some president officers failed to put ballots in envelopes, allow envelopes to be properly sealed by election agents, seal boxes and allow election agents to properly seal boxes. These are serious errors and need to be addressed immediately.”
“Due to the state of ballots as expressed above, both the FNM (by Dr Lewis)) and the PLP agree that it is in the interests of all candidates and yourself, that as you open the current boxes and prepare the boxes for September 16th, a representative of the major political parties be invited to witness the process. This we believe will go a long way to restoring confidence in the integrity of the process and allow for a smooth process on September 16th.”
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