Britton argues on ballot boxes

by George Barclay
Guyana Chronicle
July 19, 2000

SENIOR Counsel Peter Briton was still addressing the judge hearing the Esther Perreira Elections petition yesterday, when he switched his complaints from Voter ID Card irregularities to ballot box irregularities.

Again, he asked Justice Claudette Singh to find that counsel for the Elections Commission Mr Doodnauth Singh, S.C. and Mr Ralph Ramkarran, S.C., had knowledge about the irregularities complained about, but had failed to address the Court on the matters, or to offer explanations.

Mr Britton went on to say that the irregularities and illegalities associated with the Voter ID Cards and the ballot boxes were sufficiently serious especially with respect to Regions Four and Six to affect the elections.

He submitted to the judge that the irregularities were sufficiently numerous and significant to entitle her to conclude that there has been a flagrant violation of the statutory provisions to such an extent as to affect the elections.

Consequently, he said, the Court was in a position to make a declaration in the matter.

Counsel for the Petitioner also accused counsel for the Elections Commission of concentrating only on the Voter Identification Cards in their haste to defend the indefensible while closing their eyes to the other elements such as the ballot boxes and Statements of Poll (SOPs).

He then made reference to the report of the Chief Elections Officer which contained nothing irregular about the ballot boxes although one of the CEO's technicians, Ms Donna Harris had complained about finding ballot boxes with strange numbers.

Mr Britton observed that all Mr Doodnauth Singh had to say about the ballot boxes in his address was that after the close of polls, ballot boxes were under the control of security persons.

According to him, Mr Singh had also submitted that the law provided for the boxes to be so kept for 24 hours.

Britton went on to submit that Mr Doodnauth Singh dealt with the ballot boxes in a "cavalier fashion" and even pointed out that security of ballot boxes was not of essential importance.

Britton said he was adopting page 44 of the Caricom Audit Commission report which supported the petitioner's complaint.

Mr Britton also submitted that Mr Joe Harmon was

appointed Security and Logistics officer in relation to the ballot boxes, but according to Harmon, on the night of elections, Harmon and his procedures were hijacked, and new procedures were put in place.

Mischief, he said, descended on the elections at the close of poll. At the going down of the sun came the rise of mischief, Mr Britton disclosed.

The hearing continues tomorrow.

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