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After recount, James is declared winner of North Leeward seat by one vote

After recount, James is declared winner of North Leeward seat by one vote
Carlos James (left) was declared the winner of the North Leeward seat by one vote

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Unity Labour Party (ULP) candidate, Carlos James’ lead in the North Leeward polls was reduced from seven to one, following a recount that lasted over 20 hours.

And his opponent, Roland ‘Patel’ Matthews of the New Democratic Party (NDP) was denied time to decide on whether he would request a second recount of the votes.

Following the General Elections on Thursday, November 5, a preliminary count of the votes in the constituency showed that James was out front with a total of 2287 votes with Matthews trailing by seven.

James was therefore declared the winner of the seat, increasing the ULP’s majority by one seat, for a 9-6 win in the General Elections.

A usually reliable source told SEARCHLIGHT on Saturday, November 7 that a recount of the votes, which began at 9 am on Friday and lasted until 5 am the next day, saw at least 39 ballots being rejected in the North Leeward constituency.

The source said that the ballots were rejected, not to due to any error on the part of voters, but that some ballots were mutilated and / or did not have a seal or signature of the presiding officer.

It was also said that while the rejected ballots were for both the ULP and NDP candidates, the majority were in favour of the ULP.

The rejection of almost 40 ballots narrowed James’ margin of victory, leading to the separation of the two candidates by a single vote.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that Matthews requested that the presiding officer in the constituency grant him time to decide whether he wanted to have a second recount.

This request is in keeping with House of Assembly Election Rules, which speak to the final counting of votes.

The section notes that a candidate may require the returning officer to have votes recounted but that the request can be refused if, in the opinion of the presiding officer, the request was unreasonable.

Our source said that the recount process lasted over 20 hours because lawyers for both sides were present and had the opportunity to scrutinise the ballots.

When SEARCHLIGHT contacted Carlos James on Saturday morning, he confirmed that his lead in the polls had been reduced to one vote.

He said it was unfortunate that voters didn’t get a chance for their votes to be counted for one reason or another.

This is the second time that James has contested the North Leeward seat on the ULP ticket. He lost to Matthews by 12 votes in the 2015 Elections.

Prior to the 2020 Elections, Matthews served as the constituency’s parliamentary representative for a decade.