PNP lawyer in Westmoreland Eastern magisterial recount to question handling of some rejected ballots

PNP lawyer in Westmoreland Eastern magisterial recount to question handling of some rejected ballots

Saturday, September 12, 2020

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WESTMORELAND, Jamaica— Lead attorney representing the People's National Party (PNP's) candidate Luther Buchanan in the Westmoreland Eastern magisterial recount, Maurice McCurdy says it is his intent to make a submission to the court in relation to how some of the rejected ballots are handled.

The notice by McCurdy was given shortly after the magisterial recount resumed in the Westmoreland Parish Court this morning.

When parish judge Steve Walters queried about the submission, McCurdy stated that this will be done at a later time.

A total of 41 out of 117 boxes have been counted since the counting resumed this morning.

The JLP's Daniel Lawrence has so far this morning picked up an additional six votes in comparison to one for the PNP's Buchanan.

This would bring the total count from the rejected ballots to 13 for the JLP and four for the PNP when Friday's tally is added.

At the end of the yesterday's first day of the recount, O'Neil Brown, the lead attorney representing the JLP's candidate Daniel Lawrence had told the Jamaica Observer that he had found interesting a situation in which a ballot intended for his client was found in an envelope belonging to the PNP.

Following the discovery, the presiding judge adjusted the numbers in favour of the JLP.

In another noteworthy instance, a ballot that was cast in favour of the JLP had to be placed under a light to properly identify the faint mark made by the elector. The ballot, which was originally considered as spoilt, was later added to the JLP candidate's tally after it was inspected by the judge and lawyers representing the PNP.

Lawyers representing Lawrence had filed an application for a magisterial recount on September 8, after an official count by the Electoral Office of Jamaica declared Buchanan the winner in the constituency by one vote, following the intervention of the returning officer.

Both men had obtained 4,834 votes while independent Haile Mika'el had received 34 votes. A total of 107 ballots were rejected.

As a result of the tie, the returning officer for the constituency cast the deciding vote after blindly pulling one of two ballots with the names of both candidates from a box. The ballot with Buchanan's name was drawn.

Meanwhile, Lawrence is receiving support from a team of JLP bigwigs who showed up in court this morning.

Among the stalwarts are Robert Montague, chairman of the party; Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries-designate Floyd Green and Senator Matthew Samuda.

Anthony Lewis

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