Political Leader of the UNC, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, is leading the party’s legal challenge to the EBC’s decision to hold a fresh election in Lengua/Indian Walk, based on its rejection of a valid vote which gives an electoral victory to the UNC.
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar has stated as follows:
“The UNC views with grave concern the EBC’s response to our complaint regarding the unlawful rejection of the ballots that were cast in favor of its candidate in the Local Government election district of Lengua/Indian Walk.
This ballot was rejected because the EBC’s official – the Presiding Officer – failed to initial the disputed ballot. The intention of the voter was clear from the ballot and there is therefore no lawful justification for deeming a rejected or spoilt ballot.
We are concerned to ensure that the electoral process complies with the provisions of the Representation of the People Act and the Election Rules. The object of elections is to give the ordinary person the right to express their political preference which is manifested by their vote in favour of a chosen party and candidate.
In this case, there is no doubt over the fact that the voter voted for the UNC’s candidate and, hence, we remain of the firm view that the negligence and/or inadvertent omission on the part of the EBC’s deputy presiding officer in failing to initial the ballot cannot disenfranchise the voter who did nothing wrong.
The EBC is meant to facilitate the electoral process and in doing so it must be careful not to distort the expression of the democratic will of the people by purporting to invalidate what is plainly a valid vote. The electoral process must be rooted in and comply with the rule of law and hence we consider the position taken by the EBC to be disingenuous and illegal. We are therefore taking legal action in this matter.
To this end, we have written the EBC seeking clarification on a number of critical issues. We find the EBC’s letter to be evasive and disingenuous and demand full and frank disclosure of the true reason(s) for the rejection of this ballot in light of the clear provision in Rule 97 (4) of the Election Rules that mandates the EBC official to rectify the omission by initialling the ballot in the presence of the representatives for the candidates. We expect to hear from the EBC by 4pm today on these pressing issues that are of national concern.
We are confident of victory in a by-election, but one must be careful to avoid setting a dangerous precedent that can only encourage and embolden the EBC in its attempts to interfere in the democratic process in a manner that is not permitted by law. The ramifications and implications of allowing such action to go unchallenged would have far reaching consequences for our Constitutional democracy. We are therefore dutybound to give this matter due consideration, act in the public interest and have this matter fully ventilated in our courts.
The EBC is among numerous independent bodies that have been tainted by interference from this government. The EBC must be held accountable for their illegal actions.”