Lawyers for the NDP and the petitions in discussion during ta hearing in the matter in October 2017. (iWN photo)

As the trial in the two election petitions is pushed back to December, three years after the elections they are challenging, and public interest wanes, a lawyer for the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), says that the party has already secured a political victory in the matters.

Senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste made the assertion on Boom FM on Monday, even as she said that the matters might not be disposed of before the next general election — constitutionally due in March 2021.

“I am not saying this to have people feel despondent. … let’s suppose that we have the hearing in [December] and the other side loses, they will appeal. They would appeal. They have already telescoped that, which means that even though we win in December, they would appeal and maybe it would take three months, maybe for the appeal to come off,” she said.

The cases, which were scheduled for trial in September, were, this month, pushed back to December after a case management hearing before trial judge, Justice Esco Henry.

“… when we went to court on the 12th of July, … neither party, neither the petitioners nor the respondents wanted that date (September) vacated, but Justice Henry raised the issue that because of all these applications that were before her, she thought it was impossible to be able to get them through in time to have our hearing in September,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.

She said that the judge indicated that because the High Court goes on holiday from the end of July to the middle of September and the number of applications in the case, it appeared to her that she would not be able to conduct the trial in September.

“So based upon her promptings, the petitioners met and tried to find an alternative date that would suit everybody in relation to the trial of the petitions.”

Bacchus-Baptiste said that various dates were put forward and the parties settled on Dec. 3 to 7.

“That basically is the consent order which was filed by the parties, signed by all the parties,” she said.

“Now, I know that persons would be very, very disappointed. They were looking forward to a hearing in September and now we have gone to December. As I said, for my part and from the petitioners’ stand point, we find that we cannot fault the judge in this situation, because, as she said, there were a number of applications and she is a very thorough judge and, therefore, if we want the matter heard and dealt with thoroughly, we have to agree to postponing it.

Opposition Senator, lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste. (iWN file photo)

Bacchus-Baptiste said that questions about where the petitions are going and about the people being fed up are valid.

“As far as I am concerned, — let me speak politically — politically, we have already won in relation to what we set out to do for the petitions.

“We have shown and we have had the other side, by submissions and by affidavits, admit that over 300 votes were illegally counted, that according to law are void and should not be counted in Central Leeward…”

The NDP is challenging the results in Central Leeward and North Windward, two of the seats that election officials say the Unity Labour Party won for a fourth consecutive term in office.

“Our argument is that in any election, especially in one of the smallest constituencies, where you have 300-and-something ballots illegally counted that should not be counted, that alone is substantial non-compliance with the election law… It is a substantial one, qualitatively, and, therefore, the election should be set aside, politically.

“Now, the import of this is that we have already identified what we believe is the reason why there were so many void ballots and we think that that was repeated in all of the election because that was the modus operandi that they used to steal the elections, in that, the ballot papers were, it seems — well, for a fact, the ballot papers were badly designed because we have ballot papers to show that.”

Bacchus-Baptiste said the result of that bad design is that it breached the constitutionally guaranteed secrecy of the vote, and allowed “the other side” to know how many ballots they needed to win.

“… now, this is a political argument — I am saying, but it is significant,” she said.

She said that while the 300-plus ballots were not all cast for the ULP candidate, “you have disenfranchised 300 and something voters.

“That’s the principle. It doesn’t matter whether they are ULP or NDP voters because the court is not interested and the law is not interested in who the parties voted for. The law is interested in the right to cast your vote for your candidate of choice…

“What is more, the strength of our case, it does not seem as if this was just a mistake. You don’t repeat a mistake 300 times. So that is why we want our supporters and even well wishers and right-thinking persons to understand what took place in the 2015 elections.

“It is an aberration that took place; badly designed ballot papers which led to disenfranchisation in one constituency only, over 300 voters and a breach of the secrecy of the ballot, which is enshrined in our constitution and enacted in the Representation of the People Act.”

The senator said it is likely that something similar happened in previous general elections.

8 replies on “NDP claims ‘political victory’ in election petitions”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    This is only a win-win for the ULP.

    If the election petition case goes in their favour, they will surely win the next election.

    If the election petition goes against them, they will appeal if their lawyers feel confident of a victory in the Court of Appeal. If they lose again, they could appeal to the Privy Council and hold an election while awaiting the case to heard, an election they would win depending on other conditions in SVG at the time, including the likelihood of further debt forgiveness at the airport.

    It is also possible the ULP would simply call a snap election after a first loss in the high court, one the party would likely win as as well.

    The people of SVG would always support a party with bad policies over one with no polices.

  2. Charles stay says:

    The senator purposely continues not to tell her audience who suggested that these ” illegally counted” ballots be counted. As usually NDP leaders always claim their perceived victory- unfortunately. Time will tell this time..but then again they will cry foul…. again.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      Duncie Winston Gaymes should not have listening to Ben Exeter but this, in itself, did not invalidate the vote because despite the minor election irregularities (ballots improperly printed, etc.), there is no evidence that the ballot boxes were stuffed with phoney votes, or that the counting of the ballots was rigged, or that the will of the people was not otherwise expressed which I believe is what the High Court justice will conclude.

      If I am correct, then the ULP will win the next election by a margin of at least nine seats.

  3. POLITICAL VICTORY??…….HOW , WHEN , WHERE ?…. more so political embarrassment
    I’m confused. …… lawyers always have a way of knowing how a court will rule according to their perception of THEIR stories , but unfortunately thats not how the courts work .

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