Clarity provided over Police Ballots

Judy Benoit – it is not my business to release the information

Supervisor of Elections, Judy Benoit has sought to justify the need for the distinct mark on police ballots.

Benoit told members of the media last week Thursday that the law which took effect in 2008 to allow special polling day for Police Officers, specifically states that the ballot paper should be distinguishable from the others.

She said it is the duty of the Parliamentary Elections Office to keep that distinguishable mark as minimal as possible so as to avoid it being identified by the General Public.

According to the Supervisor of elections, it is not her business to release the information to the General Public.

“These ballot papers are not exposed to the public, and they are secret ballots and they are kept secret (in the office) and no one will know how the police voted,” she quipped.

Chief of Mission of the Organisation of American States (OAS) Elections Observation Mission, Ambassador Joshua Sears reported that concerns were brought to their attention about the distinguishing mark used to differentiate the police ballots from regular ones.

Citizens who heeded the call to exercise their franchise

Ambassador Sears believes this practice can potentially undermine the secrecy of the vote.

He recommends that the distinctive mark of the police ballot should be eliminated so as to bring it in compliance with the Constitution regarding the secrecy of the ballot.

Benoit who provided the media with preliminary updates of the February 19 General Elections said there was a very high turn out of voters.

She stated that 54,524 eligible persons voted on polling day, which reflects an 87.72 percent turn out among voters.

The New National Party (NNP) of Dr. Keith Mitchell swept the polls by winning all of the 15 Parliamentary Seats.

It received 32,031 votes while the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Tillman Thomas got 22,084 of the votes cast.

Benoit felt satisfied that the voter’s list is probably the cleanest that has ever been prepared for a General Election on the island.

She said with the civil registry being computerised her Office will be able to continuously clean the list by removing persons who die, and register those who turn 18 promptly.

The Elections Supervisor reminded the media that the list used in the July 2008 General Elections contained over 71,000 people and was inflated.

Benoit spoke of minor incidents reported to the Parliamentary Elections Office during polling day.

She claimed that her Office received reports that outside agents of the political parties were encroaching within the one hundred yards mark.


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