Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb, who was supervisor of elections at the time of the contested 2015 general elections, told the court, on Thursday, that it is clear that the election law intended for wooden boxes and not the plastic ones used in the 2015 general elections.
Findlay-Scrubb’s statement came on Thursday, day four of the elections petitions trial, as she was cross examined by lead lawyer for the petitioners, Queen’s Counsel Stanley “Stalky” John.
She told the court that the plastic boxes, rather than the wooden ones, were also used in the 2009 referendum and the 2010 general elections.
At the beginning of her testimony, Findlay-Scrubb who retired from her elections chief post in April 2018, told the court that she was familiar with the election law, having been briefed by the Attorney General’s Office after being appointed to the post.
She told the court that when the Representation of the People Act (RPA) speaks about sealing ballot boxes, “it was clearly that it was the wooden boxes used up until the elections of 2005”.
Findlay-Scrubb said that by the time she had conducted the referendum of 2009, a new plastic box, “used internationally” was introduced into the local system.
She said that the decision to acquire plastic ballot boxes was made before she became supervisor of elections.
“And so it was not possible to seal the plastic boxes in the same way that the wooden boxes were sealed. Therefore, that’s where the plastic ties come in. They, fundamentally, replaced the key that would have been used to lock the wooden boxes,” she told the court.
John then asked Findlay-Scrubb if there was supposed to be a key to lock the wooden boxes?
Findlay-Scrubb told the court that while she was not always supervisor of elections, she understood that to have always been the case.
She said that with the introduction of the plastic boxes, there was, therefore, no clear direction of what was now considered a seal “or those technical terms”.
She explained: “… we still realised there had to be a way of identifying the box and the person who witnessed that box being packed, closed, they had to still, like with the former seal for the wooden boxes, sign the seal. We created one but it was not a paper one, it was from a material that could stick on to plastic”.
Findlay-Scrubb said this is what she referred to, in her witness statement, which was tendered as her evidence in chief, as a “sticker” or a “label”, adding that it “had the exact design of the former seal”.
John then asked Findlay-Scrubb if there was a provision in the law for a sticker or a label and she said no.
The lawyer then directed Findlay-Scrubb to the election rule that says the presiding officer shall “transfer to the returning officer the ballot box, the envelope continuing the keys thereof …”
He asked her if she received any keys from any presiding officer in Central leeward, and Findlay-Scrubb said she did not give keys to or receive keys from the presiding officer.
The lawyer then asked Findlay-Scrubb if there was anywhere in the law that provides for her to provide stickers and plastic ties to the returning office.
Findlay-Scrubb said she “would say no”. She added that she is, however, required to ensure the security of the ballot boxes.
“And I do understand Mr. John’s concern about the key or lack thereof. However, as the Supervisor of Elections, I had to make a decision as to how I can best secure the ballot boxes in the absence of the specifics as obtained for the wooden boxes.”
John then asked Findlay-Scrubb whether there are locks and keys that can fit on plastic boxes and she said she did not know and did not make any inquiries to find any.