Retired Trinidadian Judge Justice Stanley John on Thursday dismissed two election petitions filed by two candidates of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) challenging the results of the North Windward and Central Leeward elections of December 9th, 2015.
Justice John, who was contracted to preside over the trial, said that the major issues raised at the hearing were: whether the ballot boxes used in the conduct of the election in compliance with the law; Were ballot papers pre-printed with the official mark? Were Form 16 statements of poll provided at the final count for all polling stations? After voting, did voters fold the ballot paper in such a manner that the initials of the presiding officer and the official mark became visible only upon opening the ballot? Did the Supervisor of Elections provide polling lists for the constituencies of Central Leeward and North Windward to the candidates in accordance with the established practice? Was there evidence of breach of secrecy? Was there evidence of partiality? Was there a failure on the part of the respondent to provide a proper paper trail for the form 16 statement of the poll?
Justice John said that the mentioned issues were raised during trial and he found that except for evidence of partiality, there was no evidence to support them.
The trial judge said he was satisfied that the elections in Central Leeward and North Windward were conducted substantially in accordance with the election laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and that the acts of omission of the presiding officers and the returning officers were not such, either separately or collectively, to affect the final results of the elections.
Justice John said that the critical questions the court had to address were whether the elections were free and fair; and whether the elections were not conducted substantially in accordance with the law applicable to the elections.
Following the announcement of the results, members and supporter of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) took to the streets, disrupting vehicular traffic as they made a protest march around Kingstown.
The NDP has already stated that they would appeal the Judge’s decision if the petitions were dismissed.