Central Voting Bureau members review a ballot
Voting Bureau completes partial recount of ballots
PHILIPSBURG–The partial recounts of the five polling stations were completed just after noon by the Central Voting Bureau in its public sitting in Parliament House.
The Bureau has now moved onto checking the tally sheets of four polling stations against the reports (proces verbaal) polling station chairpersons. The tally sheets were missing when the chairpersons’ turned in their reports after the February 26 snap elections. The sheets were found when the locked boxes containing ballots for each polling station were opened.
The ones from polling stations #11 – Charles Leopold Bell Primary School, #12 – Leonard Connor Primary School, and #17 – Dutch Quarter Community Helpdesk, were quickly located. This was not the case for #13 – Simpson Bay Community Centre; the tally sheets were placed in the sealed envelopes of each of the six parties in the race.
The Voting Bureau has suspended the public session to cross-check the tally sheets from the four polling stations against the proces verbaals. If the two from any polling station do not match, a total or partial recount will be triggered.
The public sitting of the Voting Bureau started on Monday, five days (not counting the weekend) after the snap election as prescribed by law. Total recounts were conducted for three polling stations: – #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 partial recounts could not proceed Monday due to a power outage that affected the Dutch side’s capital of Philipsburg.
Partial recount of polling station #5 – Dutch Quarter Community Centre – focused only on the ballots cast for the United St. Maarten Party (US Party). The review was prompted after the Central Voting Bureau noticed a difference between the tally sheet and the “proces verbaal” of the station chairperson. The tally sheet had two “sticks” meaning two votes for candidate number three former Minister Maria Buncamper-Molanus while the proces verbaal recorded the numeral “11.”
The recount of polling station #5 verified that Buncamper-Molanus received 11 votes as recorded in the proces verbaal. The tally sheet was therefore incorrect as it should have shown two bundles of “sticks” and a single one.
The review of the all invalid ballots from #5 saw the Voting Bureau ruled 14 of those valid. The United Democrats received six additional votes, National Alliance (NA) three, St. Maarten Development Movement (SDM) four and US Party one.
Three “void” ballots were recorded for this district. Void ballots occur when a voter makes a mistake on a ballot and requests a new one for the polling station staff. The original ballot is stamped “void” and a new one is issued to the voter.
Three blank ballots were cast at this polling station.
The ballots for the United Democrats cast at polling station #7 – Rupert I. Maynard Youth Community Centre – were reviewed due again to a tally sheet/process verbaal error related to candidate Rhoda Arrindell. The tally sheet recorded 17 votes for her, but the proces verbaal only noted seven. The latter was found to be correct after the recount.
One vote was taken away from United Democrats candidate Angelique Romou after a ballot for her was deemed invalid – while colouring the circle with the red pencil the voter scratched into the white circle of the candidate below.
Party representative voter Armand Meda objected saying the now-invalid ballot could have been that of an elderly person or someone with a shaky hand and that the intent of the voter was clear. He called for a recheck of all parties to see if similar invalids were in their stacks. Meda’s protest did not bear fruit.
Voting Bureau Chairman Jason Rogers said the law was clear about what an invalid ballot is and that there was no reason to further doubt the count.
Seven invalid ballots were rendered valid.
The NA slate was the focus of the partial recount of polling station #8 – St. Maarten Academy. From the tally sheet and proces verbaal, it appeared that the votes for candidates Oswald Bell (number 20 on the slate) and Jelani Bell (21) were switched. The recount found that the proces verbal was correct.
Eight of the 21 invalid ballots were made valid. Three each went to NA and the United Democrats, and one each to People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) and US Party.
The partial recount of polling station #14 – Belvedere Community Centre related to a discrepancy in the tally sheet and proces verbaal related to NA leader former Minister Silveria Jacobs. As with other polling stations, only ballots cast for that party were reviewed by the Voting Bureau. The recount deemed the proces verbaal correct.
One valid ballot for former Minister Christophe Emmanuel (NA) was rendered invalid after examination.
One invalid ballot was awarded to current MP Claret Connor (United Democrats) after review.
This polling station along with #15 – Melford Hazel Sports and Recreational Centre had the highest number of blank ballots – 11 each. A total of 98 blank ballots were cast across all polling stations.
Similar discrepancies as from the other partial recount stations led to the recheck of the ballots for three of the six parties – United Democrats, SDM and US Party – cast at polling station #16 – Methodist Agogic Centre. The recount saw Unite Democrats lose three votes and the US Party one vote.
The Voting Bureau had initially decided to only review ballots cast for the affect candidates in the five polling stations. However, after Monday’s total recount of these other polling stations, that decision was amended count the entire stack of ballots for the parties, rather than the individual candidate. The amendment was prompted by not all ballots for a candidate being stacked together in the three total recount stations.
Rogers said at the start of this morning’s session the amended decision was taken for transparency and fairness.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/74356-voting-bureau-completes-partial-recount-of-ballots