Witness describes Elections Commission document as a forgery
-at petition hearing

Stabroek News
October 13, 1999

One of four former presiding officers who yesterday testified in the elections petition hearing, charged that a document tendered by the Elections Commission (EC) as coming from her polling station should, in fact, be rejected as a "forgery".

Testifying before Justice Claudette Singh and under cross- examination by counsel for the petitioner, Raphael Trotman, Patricia Liverpool explained her charge by pointing out that the EC document was significantly different from the one she had prepared.

The witness' testimony came after Trotman had shown her copies of two Statements of Poll (SOP), one of which she accepted as hers and another which she said bore the name "Lynette Short".

Liverpool told the court that, although Short was known to her, she had not been authorised to prepare any SOPs and that further, the SOP bearing Short's name had numbers that were different from hers.

She also pointed out that the SOP she had prepared had had the names of the political parties written in while the SOP she rejected had had these names typed in.

Observing that the Elections Commission appeared to have two different sets of documents, Liverpool agreed with counsel's suggestion that it was likely that the Elections Commission used documents other than hers to declare results.

Under re-examination by Trotman's opposite, Hubert Rodney, Liverpool was made to look at the documents again. She then told the court that when she had prepared her SOP, she had combined the regional and the general results. In the other documents, the results had apparently been broken down (separated).

Trotman then had the witness observe that, despite this, she still maintained that there had been some forgery involved.

Liverpool's testimony yesterday followed that of Winifred Mercurious, and preceded that of Gail Primo and Merna Kendall.

In their testimony, all of the former POs maintained that they had signed their SOPs.

Led by Rodney, Mercurious testified that on elections day, she had been one of two POs stationed at the St Christopher Nursery School.

Under cross-examination by Trotman, she however denied authorising anyone to sign her SOP and expressed ignorance as to the identity of Pamela Ward, whose name appeared on a SOP purporting to have come from her polling stations.

The witness went on to testify that she had later been asked whether she had signed her SOPs, to which she replied in the affirmative. She was then paid her wage as a PO but, according to her, she had gotten the impression that if she had not signed her SOPs she would not have been paid.

In closing, Trotman asked her to observe that, according to the documents tendered in court both polling stations at St. Christopher's had recorded 297 votes each.

The court also heard testimony from Primo and Kendall, who both maintained that they signed their SOPs. Primo went on to observe that if, according to the Elections Commission (EC), they had only received unsigned SOPs from her, then it appeared as if the EC had itself used unsigned SOPs to declare results.

The elections petition hearing is expected to continue today, with some more former presiding officers being called.

The petition was launched by Esther Perreira, who through her lawyers, Peter Britton SC and Trotman is challenging the 1997 elections on the grounds that it was so flawed that it cannot be said to accurately reflect the will of the electorate.

Among the respondents she has named are former presidents, Janet Jagan and Desmond Hoyte as well as Chief Election Officer, Stanley Singh.

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