~ Partial recounts start at 3:00pm ~
PHILIPSBURG–The total recount of three polling stations was completed by the Central Voting Bureau this afternoon. The recounts corrected errors and awarded additional votes to several candidates on five of the six parties’ slates, but no change so far has been significant enough to affect the outcome of the February 26 snap elections.
The Bureau ruled earlier today to recount the three districts – #10 National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA), # 15 Melford Hazel Sports and Recreational Centre and #18 – the Seventh Day Adventist School in Cole Bay.
The reason for the total recount of the three districts was the same – the tally sheets were missing from the package submitted by the polling station chairperson to the Bureau after the ballots were counted. The tally sheet is needed by the Bureau to compare with the “proces verbaal” of the chairperson. This check could not be carried out on election night, because the boxes containing the ballots could only be opened in a public sitting of the Bureau. That sitting started this morning in Parliament House.
Polling station #10 – National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) – had one of the highest numbers of invalid ballots. The station’s staff marked all ballot with an “x” or a check mark as invalid; the Bureau ruled 16 of the 34 valid. Five votes each were picked up by the United Democrats and National Alliance (NA), and three each by United St. Maarten Party (US Party) and St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP).
This polling station had some creative voters who wrote and scratched up their ballots rendering them invalid.
In polling station #15 – Melford Hazel Sports and Recreational Centre, four valid ballots were deemed invalid by the Bureau due to different errors including one for NA candidate Leonard “Lenny” Priest. The voter drew an “o” and a “v” next to his name but did not colour the circle. Also losing a vote each were three party leaders – Theo Heyliger (United Democrats), Frans Richardson (United St. Maarten Party) and Wycliffe Smith (St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP).
None of the invalid ballots from this polling station were deemed valid.
At polling station #18, one invalid ballot was ruled valid and went to the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA).
The tally for NA went down by one vote to 154. The recount found that former Minister Christophe Emmanuel was logged as having 19 votes when the ballots only tallied to 18.
A shift of votes was recorded on the US Party slate – four votes for Lyndon Lewis were recorded for Richinel Brug. The final count from that station now has Brug at zero and Lewis at four votes.
Two “void” ballots were recorded at this polling station. These were ballots voters returned to polling station staff after making an error. The voters were issued new ballots. The law allows for a voter to request a second ballot if they made a mistake on the original one.
The Bureau will resume its sitting at 3:00pm to continue with the partial recount of five polling stations: #5 – Dutch Quarter Community Centre, #7 Rupert I. Maynard Youth Community Centre, #8 St. Maarten Academy, #14 Belvedere Community Centre and #16 Methodist Agogic Centre.
The partial recounts at these stations will only target a few candidates for whom the tally sheet count and the “proces verbaal” did not match. Common errors were two “sticks” on the tally sheet being recorded as the number 11 instead of the number two and the votes for two candidates being inverted.
All invalid ballots, which include blank ballots, from all 20 polling stations will be reviewed by the Bureau. Those numbered 303 at the start of the sitting. The invalid ballots of the three total recount stations have already been reviewed by the Bureau.
The invalid ballots this election was higher than the snap elections 17 months ago when that number was 196. More voters cast ballots in that election – 14,596.
Total ballots cast on Monday tallied to 13,954 or 62 per cent of the voting population.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/74314-total-recount-of-three-polling-stations-done