SOE provided NDP with hard, soft copies of voters list for all 15 constituencies
The validity of voter lists provided to the New Democratic Party (NDP) by the Supervisor of Elections(SOE) is a separate issue, and one which should have been raised before the election.
Justice Stanley John concluded this in his analysis of the pleadings related to the lists, submitted by the NDP candidates Lauron Baptiste and Benjamin Exeter.
From the allegations, John was concerned with determining whether the SOE, Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb failed to provide polling station lists for Central Leeward and North Windward. It was also claimed that Findlay-Scrubb had insisted the NDP print its own list off of a compact disk she gave them, and she had ignored an established practice that five or six lists be printed for the candidates.
The petitioners also put forward that the lists provided to them were materially different to those given to the agents for Unity Labour Party (ULP), and that there were names on the ULP agents’ lists and the elections officers’ lists that were not on the petitioners’ agents’ lists.
The SOE’s response in her evidence was that she provided each candidate with the Register of Voters for all 15 constituencies, and the lists for all polling divisions. This was done in hard copy and soft copy.
Findlay-Scrubb denied knowledge of a practice wherein five to six copies of any lists are given to candidates, and neither was she aware that the lists were broken down by polling stations.
Among his submissions, Anthony Astaphan SC (for the Attorney General), had noted that complaints dealing with the lists had not been made during election day, and referenced a report on the 2015 elections attached to the witness summary of Exeter. In this report the SOE had said that she responded to six queries on the day, and that only two had merit, wherein the names had been inadvertently omitted from the final voter’s list.
Astaphan had pointed the judge to the case Radix v Gairy, which became integral to the Justice in his decision on the matter. This case notes that the legal position wherein a candidate who contested on an existing list of voters, can accept a list if he wins, but may argue that the list is invalid if he loses, is not correct.
Complaints against the registration in an election process cannot normally be brought under election petitions, Radix v Gairy had decided.
Adding to his colleague Astaphan’s submission, Douglas Mendes SC (for the SOE, the presiding officers, and the returning officers), stated that no evidence had been given to prove the pleadings to the court, and no counter evidence to the SOE’s evidence that she was unaware of the practices. He also wrote that there was no evidence of any confusion caused by persons not knowing the number of persons eligible to vote in any polling stations.
In light of the evidence relative to the complaints, the judge adduced that the SOE carried out her duties as she is mandated to in the constitution.
She provided a hard copy of the register of voters for all 15 constituencies to the candidates, and she provided them with the compact disk of the polling division lists, and the register of voters.
“The Court accepts her evidence that she was unaware of any established practice as alleged by the Petitioner…(v) On the authority of Radix v. Gairy the validity of the list was a separate issue and the time to raise that issue was prior to the election,” John listed.
“In light of the foregoing, the Court finds no evidence to substantiate the complaints and they are dismissed,” he ruled.