Regional votes for NIP inexplicable
April 5, 1999
Former member of the Elections Commission, Jocelyn Dow, on Thursday confirmed that the documents which Leader of the National Independent Party (NIP), attorney-at-law Saphier Hussain, had produced in court for identification, were indeed copies of documents which she had received from the Elections Commission.
In the Esther Perreira election petition hearing before Justice Claudette Singh, Hussain had argued on Wednesday that though his party had not contested the regional elections, he had gained some support in that category.
Hussain asked that the documents be admitted as part of the court records, since they were issued by Elections Commission Chairman, Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh.
As a member of the commission, Dow said, she would have been in possession of similar documents. The documents were tendered as exhibits nos. 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Dow agreed under cross-examination that the documents were signed by the returning officers and the Chief Election Officer (CEO).
Singh, who is representing the CEO, had no objection to the documents being tendered for identification. The polling statements showed that NIP had gained support in the regional election in District Four (Demerara/Mahaica) in areas such as Lodge, Agricola, South and North Ruimveldt, and River View.
Dow agreed that the NIP did not contest the regional election and hence no "X" should have been marked in the space provided on ballot papers for it. A specimen of the ballot paper was also produced in court as an exhibit.
Dow also agreed that it was the CEO who had distributed the figures on polling sheets, which showed that the NIP had received votes in the regional election. But Singh pointed out to the court that the figures he saw were inaccurate and that the space provided for both the national and regional results was printed as one. Hussain rebutted that the spaces were printed separately and that the total amount of votes were brought forward on each polling sheet.
Under cross-examination by Senior Counsel Rex McKay, Dow agreed that the summary sheets should have reflected the same information which was placed on the ballot papers by voters. She conceded that persons at polling stations had made an error. McKay in association with Keith Massiah, SC, and Roysdale Forde are counsel for the Desmond Hoyte, the representative of the list of the PNC. The representatives of the lists of the other nine parties which contested the elections are also named as respondents by Perreira.
In response to McKay's question on how many persons were at one polling station, Dow explained that 11 persons would have been involved in the counting of ballots at one station. In this case, asserted McKay, sheets were submitted from nine polling stations in Region Four giving a total of 99 persons being involved in the process of the tallying of the figures.
Dow conceded to McKay's submission that accidental writing on the sheets could have been a source of error. She also agreed with him that it could have been deliberate actions on the part of polling agents. She opined that it could not be explained.
McKay further submitted that perhaps the inexplicable errors are just the tip of the iceberg, but Dow did not commit herself to an answer since she explained she had not seen all of the statements.
Perreira's petition challenges the validity of the results of the December 15 elections. She is being represented by Peter Britton, SC, in association with Raphael Trotman, Dela Britton and Lance Ferreira.