Supervisor of Election Sylvia Findlay-Srubb on Friday said she is not responding to any questions from the media even as Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has accused her of flouting the nation’s election laws and say that he will ask the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to bring charges against “certain election officers”.
“Mr. Eustace made a national address on Wednesday–” iWitness News was telling Findlay by telephone on Friday, when she said: “Mr. Chance, I am not responding to anything from any journalist. I have nothing to say. Regardless so what the question is. I don’t even want to hear it.”
Lawyers acting for the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), which Eustace leads, will ask DPP Colin Williams to issue fiats for the institution of criminal prosecutions of “certain election officers who were responsible for the counting of the votes contrary to section 40(f) Representation of the People Act,” Eustace said in a national address on Wednesday.
In his address, Eustace accused Findlay-Scrubb and Returning Officer for Central Leeward in the December 2015 general elections, Winston Gaymes, of having “acted fraudulently in conducting the elections such that the general elections of 9th December 2015 were a travesty and a sham”.
“In the instance of Mrs Findlay-Scrubb, her attempt to change her sworn testimony in relation to the general elections further implicates the conduct of the elections,” Eustace said.
He was referring to changes that Findlay-Scrubb asked to be made to sworn statements that she submitted in response to two election petitions filed by the NDP, challenging the results of the vote in Central Leeward and North Windward.
“As for Mr. Gaymes, he is no less accountable, for he confesses in his said affidavit sworn to the 21st December 2015 that he committed a grave election offence repeatedly,” Eustace said.
He noted that under Rule 40(1) of the House of Assembly Election Rules,
“Any ballot paper … which does not bear the official mark; …shall subject to this rule be VOID AND NOT COUNTED.”
However, Gaymes said in a sworn statement to the court that when I opened the ballot box CLF, he “discovered that the ballots in this specific box did not have the initials of the presiding officer nor any official mark on the ballots. As a result, I stated that I was minded to reject all the votes in this specific box.
“Mr Exeter and his lawyers however indicated to me that they were not objecting to the ballots and consented to all the votes in box CLF being counted. That is the time and occasion I said “what is good for the goose is good for the gander”. I meant that Mr Exeter’s consent was the right thing to do as both candidates would receive and in fact received votes from this box.
“I therefore counted the ballots in box CLF…”
“The thrust of Mr Gaymes’ 16th paragraph is that he knew that he ought to reject the ballots. Mr Gaymes, much like this administration, acts with such impunity that he plainly states that he broke the law,” Eustace said.
Eustace said that section 40 of the RPA, which speaks to “Offences by Election Officers”, says, “Any election officer who … wilfully counts any ballot paper as being cast for any candidate, which he knows or has reasonable cause to believe was not validly cast for such candidate, is guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction on indictment, to prison for two years.”
“I conclude therefore that Mr Gaymes has confessed to and did in fact commit an election offence. Such a conclusion is not only reasonable but inescapable.
“But it does not end there. The respective election officers at the CLF and CLF1 polling stations counted those invalid ballots too. I submit therefore that they too have repeatedly committed the election offence,” Eustace said.
He also said that Central Leeward election clerk, Clyde Robinson, did not comply with the rules.
“In their concerted efforts to hide the truth of the final count from the Vincentian electorate and to prevent the public from confirming whether in fact there has been a perversion of the democratic conduct of the elections, I can only conclude that Messrs Gaymes and Robinson are wilful in their manifest non-compliance and illegalities,” Eustace said.
Eustace said Gaymes “should and does know the rules governing the process by which the successful candidate is determined”, noting that Gaymes has worked with the Electoral Office intermittently over the past 40 years.
Eustace noted that the 2015 vote was the second consecutive general election that Scrubb, has headed.
“She too, should and does know the rules governing the conduct of the elections,” he said.