Two constituency election ties broken

-PPP/C candidate wins in Soesdyke/Huis’t Coverden

Raghunandan Singh (right) emerged the victor over APNU’S Cledwin Williams.

At least two of the three ties in the First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) component of the recently held local government elections have been resolved.

Stabroek News understands that lots drawn in Constituency 7 of Soesdyke/ Huis’t Coverden saw the PPP/C’s Raghunandan Singh emerge the victor over APNU’S Cledwin Williams while in Constituency 4 of Kwakwani (Region 10) the odds favoured the AFC’s Natasha Mohamed over Petranella Pollard of Kwakwani United For Progress (KUFP).

The ties were resolved using provisions from the recently passed amendment to the Local (Authorities) Elections Act which allows for lots to be drawn in the presence of a magistrate.

The winning lot being drawn

The particular provision reads, “where the Returning Officer ascertains and declares, under subsection (1)(b) that the votes cast in favour of each of two or more candidates are equal in number but greater than the number of votes cast in favour of any other candidate, the Returning Officer, acting in the presence of a designated Magistrate, the candidates or their representatives and members of the public, shall by lot choose one of the candidates and the Returning Officer shall declare the candidate chosen to be duly elected as the councillor for that constituency.”

In 2016, a similar tie occurred in Constituency 7 of Rose Hall when Chattergoon Ramnauth of the PPP/C secured 166 votes as did independent candidate Sandra Chisholm.

It had been identified that the Municipal and District Councils Act, as amended by Section 53A (1) of the Local Authorities (Elections) (Amendment) Act, provides that “Where a vacancy for a councillor in respect of the first-past-the-post occurs the Clerk of the Council shall…inform the Elections Commission, which shall instruct the Chief Election Officer to hold a By-Election and the Chief Election Officer shall carry out the instructions thereof.”

However, GECOM argued that there was no legal provision for the conduct of a by-election where there is an equality of votes for two or more candidates for any constituency election.

“The Commission is of the position that, since no one could be issued a Certificate of Election due to the equality of votes, no councillor could be appointed in respect of constituency No. 7 for the Municipality of Rose Hall.  Therefore, the issue of the existence of a vacancy does not arise,” it explained in a press release at the time.

Stabroek News has since learnt that another reason why a by-election was not held is that the Official List of Electors (OLE) had expired by the time the results of the 2016 elections were gazetted.

This provision has since been amended to provide for a “six months” shelf life of the OLE as opposed to the previous “three months.”

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