The court will decide

JLP going for magisterial recount after tie-breaker gives PNP Westmoreland Eastern seat

Observer staff reporter

Monday, September 07, 2020

DARLISTON, Westmoreland — Attorneys representing the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate Daniel Lawrence in the September 3 General Election have signalled their intention to request a magisterial recount for the seat which was declared in favour of People's National Party (PNP) incumbent Luther Buchanan, yesterday.

“We think that their (Buchanan and the PNP team's) victory will be short-lived. We are now moving to file the request for a magisterial recount; we will see where we go from there,” Martin Thomas, a member of Lawrence's legal team, headed by O'neal Brown, told the Jamaica Observer.

General secretary of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Dr Horace Chang also said the party will be requesting a magisterial recount.

“We will definitely be seeking a magisterial recount. I understand there are about 123 spoilt or rejected ballots, and we strongly believe that with the keen eyes of a magistrate, some of them will go in our favour, so we will be pursing that aggressively and vigorously,” Dr Chang said.

“From the reports from our team down there [at the counting centre at the Darliston Primary School], we believe that our candidate Daniel Lawrence has a good chance of getting the seat.”

The court is expected to examine the more than 100 rejected ballots cast in the election.

The seat was declared in favour of the JLP's Lawrence in the preliminary count of the ballots in last Thursday's General Election, which saw him polling 4,831 to Buchanan's 4,823.

But in the final counting of the ballots, which ended on Saturday, it was revealed that both candidates had each polled 4,834 votes, while independent candidate Haile Mika'el tallied 34.

Yesterday morning, returning officer Bernard Campbell cast a deciding vote in favour of Buchanan.

Martin explained that the returning officer cast the ballot and Buchanan got the luck of a draw.

“The names of both candidates were placed on pieces of paper, placed in the ballot box by a member of the Electoral Office of Jamaica, in the absence of the returning officer. The box was then closed. He (returning officer) then returned, the box was opened and he selected a name from the box. The PNP's candidate's name was the name that was selected. He then cast a ballot in favour of that candidate. The tie was broken and Buchanan was declared the winner,” Martin explained.

Yesterday, JLP supporters gathered near the counting centre in Darliston said they wanted to see the back of Buchanan, arguing that he should step aside now as his dwindling support at the polls overtime is an indication that should throw in the towel.

“Luther should just let it go and go home because him coming from 13,000 votes until him reach right yah so. It is a clear indication that the people them don't want you (Buchanan) so dem a try vote you out,” one woman among the JLP suporters said.

Another woman among the group chimed in: “The seat vacant right now until after the magisterial recount. Right now Luther is a half MP and Danny is the other half. That is logics. It is fair to share until the court result. Share the MP thing half and half. If anything fi run, run it half and half. So Luther go half of the time and go sit down; and Danny go half of the seat and go sit down.”

Buchanan could not be reached for a comment yesterday.

Buchanan, a former PNP deputy general secretary, was first elected Member of Parliament for the constituency in 2006 in a by-election following the retirement of former Prime Minister PJ Patterson from representational politics.



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