UNC candidate for St Joseph Ahloy Hunt displays a statement of the poll during a press conference at UNC’s Tunapuna office, Saturday 15 August. (Image: Anisto Alves)

Story by Raphael John-Lall

Dave Tancoo, General Secretary, United National Congress (UNC) claimed yesterday that the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) had not provided documents to the party which would help in ensuring the recount of votes in marginal constituencies is done accurately.

Following an initial result that saw the UNC losing the elections, the party asked recounts in five constituencies—San Fernando West, St Joseph, Tunapuna, La Horquetta/Talparo, and Toco/Sangre Grande.

At a news conference at the party’s Tunpuna office, Tancoo said: “What we asked for is access to the station diaries, the specimen signatures, access to the poll cards, those things will asset in ensuring the process is transparently reviewed. There is no reason for the EBC to object to anything that we are asking for once it will help the transparency and the process to be validated. It is strange that they are fighting this down.”

He also claimed that they have not seen correspondence from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley stating that he communicated with international bodies asking for international election observers at the August 10 election.

Ahloy Hunt, who contested the St Joseph seat, said too many irregularities taking place in the count in St Joseph.

“We found last night a ballot box which was improperly sealed. The ballot box is supposed to have seals to the front and the side to ensure that if anyone opens the ballot box, you will break those seals. Another ballot box yesterday evening had no proper seals on them and each envelope coming out of the ballot box would have a white seal with the signatures of all the persons from the polling station. None of the envelopes had those seals on it,” he said

Hunt said a report was made to the Tunapuna police station on Friday night and the matters raised by the party are being investigated.

David Nakhid, the UNC’s Tunapuna candidate, alleged irregularities in that constituency and described them as “alarming.”

“We requested to have a specimen signature present and none was provided so we have nothing to compare to the signatures on the ballot. This is for me unbelievable. We asked to see diaries so that we can have an account for people who voted, possibly without ID cards, and we were told that those diaries will not be made available,” he said.

Nakhid said 25 ballot boxes were counted without UNC representatives present in the days after the election and the returning officer set a schedule for ballots to be recounted from 9 am to 5 pm which they adhered to on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

On Wednesday, the returning officer said they would go beyond 5 pm and they counted four boxes in the UNC’s absence, he claimed. On Thursday, they went overtime from 6 pm to 11 pm without the UNC’s presence and counted five boxes.

On Friday they also went beyond the allotted time without the UNC’s presence and counted 16 boxes.

“So they counted 25 boxes in what is supposed to be a democratic process without us being present. It is not possible to count 16 boxes from 6 pm to 11 pm. That is highly suspicious. I question the motive of the EBC. The EBC must have an impartial outlook,” Nakhid said.

He also accused Prime Minister Rowley of inciting the racial divide.

La Horquetta/Talparo candidate Jearlean John also alleged irregularities in the recount in that constituency.

UNC Public Relations Officer Anita Haynes, said the recounts are a vital part of T&T’s democratic process. She did not say what the party’s next step will be if they are still unhappy with the recounting process.