Not one tittle of evidence presented of impropriety
By William Walker
May 23, 2000
Addresses began in the elections petition yesterday with Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh arguing that the petitioner had failed to find "one tittle of evidence" to prove the case.
Singh representing Chief Election Officer Stanley Singh, said the petitioner had failed to prove there was any impropriety or any objection to any results declared at any polling station. He said that in Region Six the People's National Congress (PNC) has never produced a single statement of poll (SOP) that differed from those declared by the commission, nor did they furnish the CARICOM Audit Commission with a single SOP for Region Six.
Having read the reports of the Regional Officer for Region Ten, Singh asked where was the evidence of any irregularity, how could it be said that the regional officer, a lay preacher, or his polling agents were involved in any discriminatory or unlawful acts. No PNC agent from Region Ten ever questioned the results, he noted.
Turning to Region Three, he said the percentage of voter ID cards distributed was one of the lowest in the country. How could this be, in a so-called People's Progressive Party (PPP) stronghold? Yes, some SOPs were not signed "but this does not affect a voter's entitlement to have his vote counted."
Singh began the morning by stating that every stage of the electoral process had been scrutinised by international and local observers and that the political parties had been continuously informed of the election's progress. Persistent efforts to distribute voter identification cards were extensive, he said, and recalled the task force set up in Region Four to complete the process and the urgings by the Elections Commission for citizens to pick up their cards.
In Region Five the presiding officer testified that he had visited 25 to 30 polling stations and not one complaint was raised. "What are these allegations?" Singh asked, "They can't provide a tittle of evidence to support anything they say... you can't bury your head in the sand!" As for the claims of errant ballot boxes "What is the relevance of ballot boxes when you have counting at the place of poll?" Singh asked.
Next to Region Six and the testimony of Jerome Gajadhar, presiding officer, that showed there were 103 scrutineers from the PNC present on election day. Nation-wide there were over 1,700 representatives from the two major parties, Singh said. As for the findings on page 29 of the CAC report that 45,000 persons voted without ID cards, Singh asked the court to examine the detailed appendices referred to in the report before making any decision. His address will continue today.
Singh's arguments were delayed while Senior Counsel Rex McKay berated the reporter from the Stabroek News for inserting the erratum (admitted into evidence) word for word in last Thursday's edition of the newspaper. McKay called the report false and inaccurate. He suggested that the freedom of the press should be bridled.
McKay said the erratum was not being admitted for the truth of its contents but for the purpose of showing that his client Desmond Hoyte had received it. He asked the court to send the reporter away but a smiling Justice Claudette Singh dismissed the matter as just "newness" on behalf of the reporter and continued with the hearing.
But it was not explained in court why no details of the erratum could be reported given that it had been entered into evidence. During the 21-month petition many documents have been admitted and their contents reported.