Magisterial recounts start in Westmoreland Eastern on Friday

Magisterial recounts start in Westmoreland Eastern on Friday

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

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THE first of three magisterial recounts requested by lawyers for Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidates with close losses in last Thursday's general election will be held on Friday in Westmoreland Eastern.

One of the lead attorneys for the candidates, Caroline Chuck, confirmed yesterday afternoon that the recount will be at the Westmoreland Parish Court in Savanna-la-Mar, starting at 10:00 am.

The preliminary count of the votes in the constituency gave JLP candidate Daniel Lawrence an eight-vote lead. However, when the final count ended on Saturday it showed that the two candidates, People's National Party (PNP) incumbent Luther Buchanan and Lawrence, were tied at 4,834 votes apiece. For the deciding vote, the returning officer for the constituency wrote the names of the two candidates on separate pieces of paper and placed them in a box from which Buchanan's name was randomly drawn, giving him the victory by that single vote.

However, both the JLP and their candidate, Daniel Lawrence, were dissatisfied that a number of their votes had been rejected in the final count — which considered legal and genuine ballots — and decided to take the matter to the courts for a recount. Over 100 votes had been rejected in the earlier counts.

Chuck, who is also spokesperson for the JLP's legal team, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the party had absolute confidence that Friday's count will bring home the seat for their candidate. Lawrence's team also includes attorneys O'Neil Brown and Martin Thomas.

“There are several rejected ballots that we believe we will be able to pick up during the recount,” she said confidently.

Late yesterday it was also confirmed that another magisterial recount has been scheduled for September 16 in the St Catherine North Western constituency formerly represented by the PNP's Robert Pickersgill, dubbed the party's Chairman for Life. The seat was won by the PNP's Hugh Graham, the former councillor for Lluidas Vale, who got 5,283 votes to the JLP's Newton Amos's 5,261 and independent Gene Guthrie's 25.

But Amos's dissatisfaction with the rejection of some ballots by the Electoral Office of Jamaica has led to the JLP's application for a recount, which will take place at the St Catherine Parish Court. Pickersgill defeated Amos, a former senior police officer, by 7,104 to 6,097 votes in the 2016 General Election.

An application for the third magisterial recount, which involves candidates for the St Ann South Eastern constituency, is expected to be made by the JLP's team of lawyers today. The PNP's Lisa Hanna retained the seat by a mere 14 votes, after the preliminary count on Thursday gave her 5,124 votes to Granston's 5,110. However, the final count increased her majority to 32 by Friday, as she polled 5,122 votes to the 5,090 netted by Delroy Granston of the JLP.

Hanna being a leading figure in the PNP, the dramatic fall in her voter support from 8,056 votes in 2016 raised eyebrows during the close encounter on Thursday.


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