Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 30th 2013 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Members of the media and
political scientists are saying
they got the wrong figure of a
26 per cent turnout in the recent
local government elections from
Elections and Boundaries Com-
mission (EBC) returning officers
out in the field on election day.
Many media houses reported
on election night on October 21
and the following day there was
a low turnout of 26 per cent. The
EBC later released a statement
showing that to be inaccurate,
saying there was actually a high
turnout of 43.6 per cent.
The EBC said it got its figures
from returning officers and at no
time did it issue a statement there
was a turnout of 26 per cent.
EBC chief elections officer
Ramesh Nanan, describing the
process, said yesterday political
parties had their own polling
agents at polling stations on elec-
tion day who supplied their par-
ties with figures.
The T&T Guardian sought to
trace the origin of the inaccurate
figures but it remained unknown
where the figures came from.
The 26 per cent became an
issue when TV 6 Morning Edition
host Fazeer Mohammed told
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Row-
ley on a recent show there was
an impression the PNM had a
hollow victory and it was the
result of a low turnout.
PNM PRO Senator Faris Al-
Rawi, repeating what Rowley told
Mohammed, told the T&T
Guardian yesterday: "We never,
ever put out any figure other than
43.6 per cent.
"We discussed nothing and
committed to no figures on elec-
tion night. But we observed the
media accepting and reporting
figures coming in without iden-
tifying the source."
Al-Rawi said the PNM spent
a couple days working out the
voter-turnout and was able to
confirm the number with the
Inshan Ishmael of the Inde-
pendent Liberal Party (ILP) said
at no time did the party ever
release any statement to the media
saying the turnout was 26 per
"We don t assume the respon-
sibility of the EBC."
He said no ILP polling agent
was authorised to give out any
figures to anyone and, therefore,
the 26 per cent did not come from
them. He said the ILP, in fact,
was led on election night to
believe the voter turnout was 26
"We were at the head office
and the first time we heard it was
on the media. Several media
houses were reporting it and we
thought it was accurate.
"But we were still tabulating
the figures and by next morning
we realised something was
wrong," he added.
Housing Minister Dr Roodal
Moonilal, Minister of the Envi-
ronment and Water Resources
Ganga Singh and Works Minister
Dr Suruj Rambachan could not
be reached for comment yester-
Sampson Nanton, executive
producer at Guardian Media Ltd s
CNC 3, said it was political com-
mentator Michael Harris who first
mentioned the 26 per cent on a
live panel discussion on the station
on election night.
Nanton said Harris was ques-
tioning the figures which came
in from returning officers in the
field. He said other media stations
took up the figure.
Political scientist Dr Hamid
Ghany, a deputy managing direc-
tor and managing editor of GML,
was the moderator of the panel
on CNC 3 that night. He said the
panellists believed they were
working with EBC results.
"All the media houses reported
it," he pointed out.
Ghany dismissed the notion
there was some conspiracy on the
part of the media to create the
impression that one party had
the edge over the others in the
elections because of a low voter
Nanan said he had no knowl-
edge of any figures leaving the
commission that was in the vicin-
ity of 26 per cent. He said the
EBC released preliminary figures
in the 40s and its final figure was
43.6 per cent.
Nanan said counting was done
at the polling stations after an
election was over and the pre-
siding officer took the figures to
the returning officers.
He said there were 53 such offi-
cers out in the field on October
21 and the returning officers then
sent the figures to the central
Nanan said the different polit-
ical parties have polling agents
witnessing the counting of the
votes, as well. He said those agents
took the figures to their parties.
He could not confirm or deny
whether polling agents gave the
media the 26 per cent figure.
(See full results of the local
government elections on Pages
A14 and A16)
Independent Liberal Party (ILP) can-
didate for the November 4 St Joseph by-
election Om Lalla says a criminal inves-
tigation should be done into the
execution of infrastructure projects by
the candidate for the United National
Congress Ian Alleyne.
Since being nominated to contest the
by-election, Alleyne has been engaged in
several projects to benefit constituents,
including building box drains. Full page
advertisements have also been printed in
the media listing the projects.
Lalla, an attorney, spoke with the media
during a walkabout with party leader Jack
Warner at Quarry Drive, Champs Fleurs,
He said giving Alleyne to engage in
such projects may amount to misbehav-
iour in public office by those in author-
"That may warrant a criminal inves-
tigation by the Commissioner of Police,"
Lalla said Alleyne did not have the legal
authority to award contracts or make
promises in the way he was doing.
Alleyne, he said, was creating "a serious
stain on the Government" which was
"giving people without authority to enter
the treasury and to interfere with the gov-
ernance of this country."
While Alleyne may be enthusiastic,
Lalla warned: "He is treading a very dan-
gerous course that is going to change gov-
ernance in this country."
Explaining his position, Lalla said allow-
ing a private citizen who had no legal
authority to issue contracts was "literally
usurping the function of all public officials
and after the election that is probably
going to warrant a serious criminal inves-
He said the Government did not have
the authority to break the rules of tender
process and the law.
"There will be repercussions after this
election," he said, "and there may be a
criminal investigation into misbehaviour
in public office as to who is giving him
the authority to award the contracts."
Lalla wanted to know if Alleyne was
working with the acting Commissioner
of Police Stephen Williams or sanctioned
by him to make promises of criminal
He said that investigation should pro-
vide answers on who gave Alleyne the
authority to engage in such activities.
Lalla also responded to statements by
Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal
about the award of a $10 million contract
to a company called Smart Communi-
Mystery still over
media's polling figures
Lalla: Probe Alleyne's
Interim political leader of the ILP Jack Warner Warner, right, is given a UNC T-shirt
by UNC supporter Ricardo Robaen during ILP St Joseph candidate Om Lalla's
walkabout in Champ Fleurs, yesterday. PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
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