PHILIPSBURG–The messages “God is my leader” and “St. Maarten deserves better”, coupled with lines across ballots, lines through candidates and voting for multiple persons on multiple party slates were amongst the things Central Voting Bureau members saw on ballots when they were recounting invalid votes at all 20 polling stations and all votes at three polling stations on Tuesday.
Voting Bureau Chairperson Jason Rogers said the Bureau had decided to recount all invalid votes, as the numbers had been high, and all the votes at polling stations #2 Sundial School, #4 Sister Marie Laurence School and #7 Rupert I. Maynard Youth Community Centre due to discrepancies in the official report at these stations. At least two dummy ballots were found during the recounts.
Tuesday’s public hearing with the Bureau was to enable eligible voters to file objections against the preliminary results of the January 9 snap parliamentary election.
Three objections had been filed during the session. One was from United People’s (UP) party #23 candidate Francisco Lacroes, who alleged that there had been election fraud at a particular polling station after two folded A4 papers taped together were found in the ballot bin at the polling station in question (see related story).
Another objection was filed by Party for Progress (PFP) leader Melissa Gumbs, who said the party’s election observer had not been allowed to witness the counting of the votes at polling station #3 the Senior Citizens Recreational Centre in Hope Estate, even though the person had arrived at polling station on time.
She was also concerned that although the results for this station had been completed at 1:30am, she believed they had been delivered much later at 3:00am. She wanted to know why the discrepancy and requested a recount of this polling station.
Another objection was raised by UP board member Gina Illidge who said the party’s observers at polling station #9 Bute Hotel had been unable to view the ballots and unable to see what was valid and invalid, and requested a recount of this district.
All the requests for recounts were denied. Rogers said there was no proof of the allegations made by Gumbs and the claim that the party’s observers were not allowed to view the counting was not supported by tangible evidence and was not received on the night of the elections. He said also that observers from other parties had been present and would have also witnessed the results.
Regarding Gumbs’ statements that the results had been late, Rogers said this was not the case. He said they had been submitted on time and there were no inconsistencies in the official report of that polling station. Regarding Illidge’s objection, he said the request for recount was not motivated.
Rogers said the Bureau takes its tasks very seriously and studies every official report from each polling station to ensure that the information can be reconciled.
The invalid and blank votes for all polling stations were recounted first. During this process, a number of votes that were originally declared invalid were declared valid and a few candidates obtained additional votes.
Some voters made their ballots invalid by voting for multiple persons either on one or multiple party slates. Some voted for all candidates, some scratched a line across their ballots, some scratched multiple lines and some wrote messages on their ballots, which included “God is my leader” and “St. Maarten deserves better”. Regarding the dummy ballots, Rogers said these were not issued to the polling stations and as such cannot be counted, and it will have to be discussed.
During the recount of the valid ballots at all polling stations, some candidates lost votes as a few ballots were declared invalid. Overall, the changes do not seem to be sufficient for any major changes in the election results or the allocation of seats.
At the end of the recounts, which lasted all day and into the night, Rogers said the Central Voting Bureau will review the results, deliberate, and on Thursday will establish the decision of the 2019 elections, providing the final results.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.facebook.com/heraldsxm/posts/3381258088567984?__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARB6btm-RuJg0E–qfMSUDOSuKjlAaefipvqvMLkiRT3Lp_1lNq4n_VHR9K7P9E-I5QQICgzCAVvBk2RoBx2h0S3gZX9r_scyoIpFgcwx1fS876oJk2dHnn0ZyIQdN4UF94bAYZ0cRT2Ui7lGLPw6EUq5F06eeB2-YgLBU2hMW6T0OTDcSJu6HQqbFRGY28U1csreQy1gZhzQUjfe7bjRUwN2aBPYr_Gvydkbocu5YDnahQp0XxoTtLg8NmF2Y9aPKnAAzSeU7KSpV4rcbtMbrffTp48sD-R3VwfjGw9DcjtXlDtqNYQIZNP4eFEUfy6q10oYB9l9j_FlIpJtTMAHBl4uA&__tn__=K-R