(Trinidad Express) From: The Hon: Kamla Persad-Bissessar S.C.
Political Leader of the People’s Partnership
People’s Partnership to File Election Petitions to Declare Elections Held on September 7, 2015 Null and Void
A decision has been taken to challenge the results of the General Election based on legal advice the People’s Partnership has received. The challenge is based on the sudden decision of the EBC to extend the time for voting from 6pm to 7pm throughout the country without any official notification to the People’s Partnership and its constituent parties.
The rules which govern a general election are quite clear. Strict adherence to these Rules is absolutely necessary to minimize and avoid irregularities. Failure to do so will result in allegations and perceptions of unfairness and favouritism.
Information and data received by the party strongly suggested that the People’s Partnership was comfortably ahead in the polls at 6pm. The march to victory adversely affected by the sudden unilateral decision by the EBC to extend hours of the poll from 6pm to 7pm.
The EBC cannot and should not change the rules of engagement without giving proper notice to candidates, political parties and voters. We have received reports that citizens were unable to cast their vote at certain polling stations because the officials of the EBC were themselves unaware or uncertain about the decision to extend the time of voting until 7pm. Additionally, many citizens were unaware of this extension of time and hence did not cast their vote.
Rule 27 (1) of the election rules is quite clear: the taking of the poll at each polling station shall be between 6 0’clock in the morning and 6 o’clock in the afternoon of the same day. Any suspension or adjournment must be based on fair and adequate prior public notice to ensure there is a level playing field. Thus, the poll could have been adjourned to the following day to facilitate those who were unable to cast their vote for good reason. This has in fact happened in the past.
We have been advised that the decision by the EBC to give an extra hour undermines the legal framework which governed the conduct of the general election and was tantamount of the shifting of the political goal post at the end of the game. This might have very well affected the integrity of the process and the results in critical constituencies.
This is a serious and important violation of the spirit and intention of the Constitution, the Representation of the People’s Act and the election rules. We will therefore file these election’s petitions to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and justice is done.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar S.C.
September 9th 2015