Senior Counsel Britton continues address

by George Barclay
Guyana Chronicle
July , 2000

SENIOR Counsel Peter Britton, addressing the judge hearing the Esther Perreira Elections petition yesterday for the third day, embraced page 29 of the Caricom Audit Commission Report.

And he castigated Mr Doodnauth Singh S.C. and Mr Ralph Ramkarran, S.C. for the Elections Commission, for not adequately addressing the Court on the evidence relating to irregular Statements of Poll (SOPs), unfair distribution of ID cards, lack of accountability in respect to unused Voter Identification Cards and an inadmissible erratum.

Mr Britton, who was still addressing the Court at the adjournment yesterday, said that his address this morning would be based on the evidence and submissions relating to the ballot boxes.

So far, he has addressed the Court on the evidence relating to Statements of Poll, which according to him, showed that many of the SOPs were unsigned, missing, reconstructed and signed by persons other than the Presiding Officers.

Pointing out that the CAC report had stated among other things on page 29 that 40,275 persons had voted without voter identification cards at the last elections, Mr Britton repeated his claim that his colleagues on the other side are still pinning their hopes on an inadmissible erratum to destroy the important CAC evidence.

Yet, he said, they have failed to bring the best evidence forward, evidence of Mr Cross, who could have testified that he had in fact signed the document. He might have explained, too, how he came to sign it.

Mr Britton said that while they were not questioning the Cross Report they were supplementing it by other evidence about which the CAC was not aware.

According to him, the CAC had viewed with concern the unaccountability of Voter ID cards.

He said cards that were not distributed were said by the Elections Commission to have been related to persons who might have been dead, or had migrated, or might have changed their addresses.

Britton told the judge that when questioned about the number in relation to each category, the response was, "I don't know." That, he said, was evidence of unaccountability.

Counsel went on to criticise Mr Doodnauth Singh for telling the Court that as many ID cards were distributed as was humanly possible.

What Mr Singh should have said, was that efforts were made to ensure that every voter received a card, because according to the amended law, no one could have voted without a Voter Identification Card, and would be disenfranchised if he had none.

Mr Britton also referred to the submissions by Mr Ralph Ramkarran, who had said that the Court did not have the power to declare the whole or part of the elections void for unlawful acts, without having addressed the Court adequately on the irregularities relating to the Voter Identification Cards.

The hearing continues today.

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