The new Supervisor of Elections, Dora James, has reached out to the New Democratic Party in an effort to maintain some measure of transparency in the democratic process of appointing Parliamentary Representatives. This is according to Senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste as she responded to a query posted during her appearance last Sunday on Asbert News Network and ITFX Digital Solutions’ interview series ‘On De Spot’.
This is according to Senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste as she responded to a query posted during her appearance last Sunday on Asbert News Network and ITFX Digital Solutions’ interview series ‘On De Spot’.
“About 6 weeks or so ago we got a letter from the Supervisor of Elections because based on our query and our complaints about what went wrong in the last election they are trying to correct first of all the ballot box because the law says that they should be locked with a key and we know that what they had there was incapable of being locked with a key.
“There are some many things wrong with that last election. Instead of locking the ballot boxes with a key what they did was used what they called tags. But they had any number of tags. You can cut the tags off and replace them and nobody would ever know. They did not record the numbers of the tags. They had more tags, despite what the [then] Supervisor of Elections said, than was necessary. Therefore it was very easy to get into the ballot boxes if you had a returning officer who was minded to do that.”
Senator Bacchus-Baptiste is also a lawyer of several decades’ experience. Together with Stalkey John QC and other attorneys they filed the most recent election petitions challenging the validity of 2 seats that were polled for the governing Unity Labor Party. According to her a letter was dispatched in response to James’ outreach.
“We wrote back telling her yes, what they should do is follow the law and get a ballot box that can be locked. But that alone would not be sufficient we are going to demand also that the ballot paper confirms, in every detail, to the law. That is, the presiding officer’s box should be put where the law says it should be so that we can secure the secrecy of the ballot.”
Bacchus-Baptiste recounted some of the difficulties detaching the counterfoil that returning officers suffered through because of what she described as the ill-conceived design of the batch of ballot papers used in the 2015 elections. “All of that impacted on the secrecy of the vote so we are insisting now that we see that ballot paper.
“It should confirm according to law in every material way. In particular that the names would be placed alphabetically as the law says and as I said it’s perforated so that you can tear it off without destroying the ballot.”
The other issue to be addressed, in true transparency, must be how the approved ballot boxes are sealed. “Those 2015 ballot boxes were not sealed at all according to law,” the Senator intoned.
“The sealing, when they say sealing, meant if you were to tamper with it when you – at the end of every election when you put the ballots into the box after the counting, you’re supposed to have the presiding officer’s initials and the poll clerks and the agents initial it – in such a way that if you were to remove it, it will disintegrate, it will tear up.
“They didn’t do that they got some labels which you can peel on and peel off. That is unacceptable. It was very, very lax in 2015 and we are working on that aspect.”