Supervisor of Elections: I am not convinced

Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip has responded to Barrister-at-Law, James “Jimmy” Bristol’s letter alleging 19 discrepancies in the referendum process.

The response letter, reportedly drafted for Phillip by Attorney-General, Cajeton Hood, said he is not convinced that anything in Bristol’s letter supports allegations that there are serious deficiencies in the referendum process.

According to Phillip, whose substantive post is Principal of the Grenada Boys Secondary School (GBSS), out of the 19 observations made by Bristol only nine “seek to raise any issue of concern.”

State lawyers spent the weekend preparing their response to papers filed in court by Bristol seeking an injunction to prevent Thursday’s Referendum from taking place.

Phillip grouped the issues of Bristol concerns into four categories: “The manner in which the publications were displayed in the newspapers (“bills not attached to the writs”) regarding section 5(2) of the Act; alleged failure to deposit the issues/publications with the Registrar of the High Court in keeping with section 14 (1) of the Newspapers Act, Cap. 211 of the 2010 Continuous Revised Edition of the Laws of Grenada (“the Newspapers Act”); Features of the ballot papers to be used on the Referendum day; availability of the Grenada Advocate, one of the newspapers used for the publications, at the “usual outlets.”

He told Bristol with reference to the observation of the bills not being attached to the writs: “Respectfully, my reading of the Act suggests that section 5 (2) (b), and not the whole of section 5 (2), deals as with the issue of the publication of the writs and bills in the Gazette and newspapers. My respectful view is that section 5 (2) (b) does not contain any requirement for the bills to be attached to the writs when published in the Gazette and newspapers.

“…My office has ensured compliance with section 5 (2) (b) of the Act. The Gazettes of October 21 and October 26 were in compliance. The Caribupdate newspapers, Vol. 5 No.36 and Vol. 5 No. 37 dated October 20-October 26 and October 27-November respectively, had the bills and writs published. Two issues of the Grenada Advocate dated October 21 and again on October 24 had the writs and bills published as required by the Act.”

Responding to observation nine and 14 of Bristol’s claim about failure to deposit issues/publications with the Registrar, Phillip pointed out that in reference to the Newspaper Act, obligation to deposit publications with the Registrar lies with the publisher of the newspaper.

“…It is my respectful view that I cannot be held responsible for any failure of the printer or publisher to comply with such obligations, if there were such failure. Nor can their failure so to do, if there was any such failure, have any effect on, or relationship to the Constitutional Referendum Act”.

The Supervisor of Elections also responded to observations 17 and 18 about the issue of the referendum ballot paper.

Phillip said: “Respectfully, I am unable to agree with you on the concept whether there is any mandate that the Supervisor of Elections must only use one form of distinction of the other. Certainly, the language of section 10 (3) of the Act suggests that the Supervisor of Elections may use one form of distinction of the other, and provides two (2) ways in which the different ballot papers may be distinguished from each other.

There is no prohibition against using both forms of distinction provided in the Act and no such prohibition ought to be inferred in my humble view.

“…In the circumstances, I am of the humble view that the use of both forms of distinction does not in any way make the process unlawful or deficient contrary to what you suggest…I note that you have not attempted to assist me by providing the basis for your contention that the “ballot forms must be dated with the actual referendum date.”

“I am aware of no such legal or other requirement and I would be most grateful if you would be so gracious as to direct me to where such a requirement may be found”.

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