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Opposition New Democratic Party candidate for Central Leeward, Ben Exeter. (iWN file photo)
Opposition New Democratic Party candidate for Central Leeward, Ben Exeter. (iWN file photo)
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The opposition politician whose presence at a voter registration centre forced the premature end to registration last Wednesday says he refused to leave the venue because the registering office could not cite an election rule barring his presence.

The politician, Ben Exeter, the opposition New Democratic Party’s candidate for Central Leeward said that he had been observing the voter registration process in the district without incident “over the last several years”

“… in the past, I was welcomed into the registration station, no problem and I would sit there and observe the process,” Exeter said on Hot FM on Thursday, one day after the incident.

“And to my surprise yesterday, when I walked into the registration office in Barrouallie, Mr. Pierre, the registering officer, told me I had to go outside, I cannot sit inside the room. So I asked him why not and he told me that the rules, the regulations do not permit me to.”

Exeter said he told Pierre that that was odd because he had done so for the last five years. He said he asked about the reason for “the sudden restriction”.

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The politician said that the registering officer maintained that it was against the rules.

Exeter said he asked Pierre to cite the rule that barred him from entering the registration station, “which he could not do, obviously”.

Exeter said that out of caution, he spoke to “a couple of our attorneys and they assured me that I’m not breaking any law as long as I am not disruptive during the process, which I was not.

“So then, Mr. Pierre indicated to me that it doesn’t really matter, the rules are the rules — which he couldn’t cite — and I have to leave.

“I said, ‘Listen, I will stay here’ and he indicated to me that if I intend on staying that he could stop the process. I said, ‘You can’t stop the process. You don’t have the authority to stop the process. You are being paid to do a job. Just do the people’s work.’”

Exeter said that at one point Pierre’s phone rang and then he said he was halting the registration for that day.

“And I said, ‘You cannot do that. And if you do, I will document it. The people need to know what’s going on down here’ and he proceeded to pack up his papers – whatever registration documentation he had and at which point I made sure that the room was vacated, there was no one there except for Mr. Pierre and another worker and myself and I put him on record. I said, Mr. Pierre, I have you on video and I am just going to ask you a few questions. Of course, he refused to answer my question and basically that’s it.”

Exeter later published on his Facebook page a video of part of the exchange between him and Pierre.

He said he was appalled that Pierre decided to not register the persons.

“As we know, the ID card is used for many, many purposes. A lady there yesterday was almost in tears because she was waiting to get her ID card to go to, I think, Western Union, somewhere to get a cheque and she was relying on that because Pierre decided he was gonna shut down the process.”

Exeter said he told Pierre that Section 10 of the Representation of the People Act — the election law — clearly gives him the right to observe at the registration centre, as he did not interfere with the process.

“I find it very strange that after all these years of me monitoring, there was no issue, all of sudden it is an issue, without any explanation.  And to be told that I cannot be there, after he received a phone call, seems highly suspicious to me,” Exeter said.

Exeter said that someone in a Unity Labour Party campaign t-shirt showed up after Pierre made the call “and tried to school me on the laws of registration process.

“And, of course, I didn’t take him on and I, in turn, asked him, ‘Wait a second, Mr. Pierre. You are trying to evict me from being in this room where I should be, rightfully, yet here is one of the operatives wearing a ULP shirt and it was clearly marked ‘Labour Love’ but yet you allowed him to stay.”

Pierre declined to comment when iWitness News contacted him on Monday, referring us instead to Supervisor of Election, Dora James, to whom he had submitted a report.

James told iWitness News that voter registration is conducted at public venues and persons can observe the registration process from outside.

 “As far as I know, we have nothing in law that says they must come in there to observe,” she said.

iWitness News asked what, if anything, the law says about observing the registration process.

“I can’t say I see something saying that,” James said.

7 replies on “Ben says he acted lawfully in Bagga”

  1. So how a regular person could dictate what the law is …..that’s unheard of a
    In a real democracy…..y’all u need to get with it ……trust me!

  2. Watch yoh nah dread, de whole ah dem may be up to something, an wah, dem nah war we foo know ah wha dem ah go arn wid, yoo nah see! True to farm see wah dem ah do ena Venezuela!

    “Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday stripped the license of one of the country’s largest political parties and handed control to a pro-government ally, the latest in a string of measures to further weaken the opposition”.

    See dread ah way we bin going all dem past years yah! Right outa de Venezuelan play book dread, carse too many man ah sleep ah yard yah!

  3. We are to assume this election will be allegedly fair, right? The narrative sounds familiar. Strange that we door see any adjective meaning unproven in this article. Alyo better leave the people be. It is always one set a man who want to be in charge by allegedly hook or crook. God help us.

  4. Hashtag Prince says:

    “I said, ‘Listen, I will stay here’ and he indicated to me that if I intend on staying that he could stop the process. I said, ‘You can’t stop the process. You don’t have the authority to stop the process. You are being paid to do a job. Just do the people’s work.’”

    Mr Exeter, as much as l am fed up with the PM and his party, l want to declare, in all fairness, that it was wrong of you to disrespect the Registration Officer Mr. Pierre in that manner. I am very disappointed.

    The Registration Officer is in charge of the registration office and if he gave you a directive, being the educated man that you are, you should have respectfully adhered. It does not matter what previous courtesies were extended to you before. You should not have made Mr. Pierre feel insignificant with such remarks about being “paid to do a job” and doing “the people’s work”. That clearly revealed a lack of integrity and arrogance.

    Sir, l respectfully submit that you should issue a public apology to the Registration Officer, Mr. Vibert Pierre.

  5. Hashtag Prince says:

    Mr. Exeter the Apostle Paul said this and l hope you remember it going forward:

    ◄ 1 Corinthians 10:23 ► KJV
    “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”

    In other words:
    You may have the lawful right to do certain things–but not everything you do is BENEFICIAL, but not everything, is CONSTRUCTIVE.

    Words of wisdom if you want to be respected as a representative.

  6. How can you observe from outside? You can only observe from inside, if the rules say you can observe then it must mean from inside. To expect someone to observe from outside is asking someone to perform the impossible and is unreasonable and cannot be what the rules mean.

    If the do not want anyone observing is must mean they up to something no good, then for a ULP clad person to turn up compounds that belief.

  7. I see no reason people cannot observe the registration process if it’s above board. Ben should get his supporters to record every one that enter the room. Take pictures of every person entering the building. The names can be verified later by people who know them. This will also record the number of registered voters, so no dead peoples’ names are added to the list.
    How ironic a person with an ULP shirt was in the room and this joker doesn’t want anyone else to be there. I was recently told that NDP supporters leave the room for a while and that’s when things start happening. There must and should be backup, so that there is always a NDP representative is in the room.

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