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NDP ‘campaign man’ accuses party’s election agents

NDP ‘campaign man’ accuses party’s election agents

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A high ranking member of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) says some of the agents who worked on behalf of the NDP in last December’s general elections were bribed by the Unity Labour Party (ULP) to allow the election to be stolen.

This is the claim of businessman {{more}}and NDP executive member Cleve Lewis, who says he came to this conclusion based on a mathematical analysis he did of the results of December 9, 2015 general elections.

Lewis, who said he is also the “main campaign man” of Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace in East Kingstown, made this extraordinary claim last Wednesday during an interview on the OMG morning show on Boom 106.9 FM.

A former banker, Lewis said he is qualified to do this type of analysis as he has been good at numbers all his life. “I had a great memory and when I reach about class four…, there was not an arithmetic problem that they set before me that I did not get right.”

According to Lewis, after reviewing the results of the general elections as posted on www.caribbeanelections.com as well as demographic information from other sources, he has come to the conclusion that more ballots were cast in some constituencies than the number of persons who were eligible to vote there.

He said the only way this could have happened is if extra ballots marked in favour of the ULP were stuffed into the ballot boxes on election day, with the NDP agents who were present at the polling stations turning a blind eye to what was taking place, because they were paid to do so.

Each polling station was staffed by at least five persons — the presiding officer and poll clerk appointed by the supervisor of elections; an agent of the ULP, an agent of the NDP and a police officer. In constituencies where the poll was contested by the DRP or Green Party, there may have been more than two agents.

The interview on Boom 106.9 FM was mainly conducted by Stephen Joachim, a chartered accountant who also holds degrees in economics, political science, accounting, finance and law.

Giving details of his analysis, Lewis said while the number of persons officially registered to vote in the December 9, 2015 general elections was 89,527, the voting age population of the country has been estimated by www.caribbeanelections.com as 72,190 persons. He explained that the voting age population is calculated by subtracting an estimate of the number of people under 18 from the country’s population of approximately 110,000 people.

A difference in the number of registered voters and the voting age population means that the voters’ list may have been overstated. According to the www.caribbeanelections.com estimate, the voters list was overstated by approximately 20 per cent.

The businessman said he then applied the 20 per cent overstatement to the North Windward constituency in which there were 6295 registered voters.

Lewis said when he reduced the number of registered voters in that constituency based on his overestimate of 20 per cent, he got a maximum number of 5,036 voters.

This he said is cause for concern as in the December 9, 2015 general elections, the actual number of persons who cast votes in North Windward was 5,125.

According to Lewis, this means that more than 100 per cent of eligible persons voted in North Windward.

Turning his attention to North Leeward where there were 5704 registered voters, Lewis said if that number is reduced by 20 per cent, the maximum number of people who should have voted there is 4,563.

Four thousand, five hundred and twenty-two (4522) people actually voted, which means there was a voter turnout of 99 per cent which Lewis said is highly unlikely.

Lewis said in 2012, he did a similar study of the 2010 elections and drew his findings to the attention of the NDP.

“I stood up before my party and I said, our agents are being bought. and I said to them, our agents are being bought,” he said.

“The only person you need to bribe is the inside agent,” he added.

Lewis said all of the poll day officials in some of the polling stations must have been in on the fraud.

“All you need to do is to get ballots into some of them (polling stations).”

Joachim however challenged Lewis’ analysis, beginning with the estimate of the voting age population. He said he came up with an estimate of 78,000 eligible voters, which would mean that the overstatement of the voters’ list was only about 13 per cent.

The chartered accountant however said, even with a lower overstatement, he did not think it was logical to take that rate and apply to all constituencies.

Despite this, he did apply it and got an estimate of the actual number of eligible voters in North Windward of 5526, which would mean that there was a real turn out there of 93 per cent and not over 100 per cent as Lewis had calculated.

“My point is that it is all well and good to apply it, but I don’t think that it is logical to take a national number and apply it to all the individual constituencies,” Joachim said.

Joachim also said he looked at all of the results and did not see anything strange about the results compared with 2010 and in some polling stations, the ULP lost votes.

“When you look at all the patterns, you are not seeing any significant pattern….”

Lewis however said special attention should be paid to areas like Sandy Bay, where according to him, “people might be susceptible to bribe.”

Joachim said in Sandy Bay, the NDP gained 32 votes, and the ULP gained 60 votes, which is not sufficient to turn around a 300 vote margin.

The ULP’s Montgomery Daniel won the seat by 2713 votes over Lauron Baptiste of the NDP who got 2,390 votes. In 2010, Daniel got 2,502 votes and the NDP’s candidate 2,252 votes.

Lewis defended this by saying the alleged ballot stuffing also took place in the 2010 general elections.

“I am saying to you…it didn’t start there, since 2010…

“The system has to get a certain amount of ballots in order not to overload it,… so there is what I would classify as a worked amount.”

The businessman also made reference to an audio tape that had been circulating on social media prior to the general elections, in which a male voice, identified by some as that of ULP candidate for East Kingstown, Luke Browne, was asking for the names of the NDP agents in that constituency.

Lewis alleged that Browne wanted to know who the NDP agents were so that he could bribe them.

“That is the only reason why,” Lewis exclaimed.

Lewis said when he spoke to his party in 2012, the told them a simple way to deal with the situation is to conduct a voting census in each constituency.

“You take the voters list by polling station and go through every name on that and you identify it.”

Asked why the NDP has not done this, Lewis said, “I don’t know, I begged. I pleaded. I said it is a simple operation…”

In his wrap up, Joachim described Lewis’ claim as a “serious condemnation” of the NDP and its leadership.

“He has said that he has been imploring his people to please … if you feel there is cheating, it is relatively easy to prove. You have a detailed list of every polling station. You can go and tick off people. The major point that Cleve is getting at …is more people voted than were eligible to vote. It is easy to find out who is eligible to vote…. take your list with you and walk around for a week and find out all the people who actually voted….,” Joachim said.

“The reality is …. from what I am hearing here, Cleve has failed to provide any meaningful proof whatsoever. What he has done is provide a good conspiracy theory….

“I know alot of people like to think Ralph Gonsalves is God, but he would have to be almost God-like in his powers to do what Cleve is saying here. You are talking about hundreds of people across the country who would have had to be involved. No one has come forward to say that they were bribed – no presiding officer, no poll clerk, no agents.”

Joachim said in his view, the NDP are being fundamentally dishonest with themselves and perhaps the general public by not analysing where they went wrong.

“The basis of their protest is that they were cheated on election day. That is what they are saying. But they can’t prove it.”

“If there was cheating, please show me where is the cheating. Why not look inside? Look and do a proper analysis. Why do we keep losing? Why do we the NDP keep losing? That is what they should be doing. Is there something wrong with the message we are sending? Is there something wrong with the campaign we are doing? Is there something wrong with the candidates? Is there something wrong with the leadership? Instead, bury your head in the sand and protest about democracy. Except It seems to me that you only care about democracy because you lost. Had you won, democracy would have been fine, even by six votes or 10 votes,” the chartered accountant said.

“We need to look at reality. You lost the election. Let’s get on and be an effective opposition. You better start thinking about what happens in 2020 because Camillo Gonsalves is coming and he is going to be a much better candidate in my view for prime minister and I personally right now, of everybody I see out there, Camillo would be my choice for prime minister.”

General Secretary of the ULP Julian Francis, who called in to the program, denied that the ULP had bribed anyone and said his party had won the general elections by sheer dint of hard work.

The total votes cast in the 2105 general elections was 65,706, which gives an official voter turnout of 73.39 per cent of the 89,527 registered voters.

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