800 in the race
By Richardson Dhalai and Andre bagoo Tuesday, October 1 2013
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UNC team: EBC returning officer Shadeed Mohammed, right, reads papers presented to him by UNC candidates, seated from left, Vijay Rampersad (Debe West...
OFFICIALS of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) were last night sifting through almost 800 names submitted as candidates for the posts of councillors and aldermen as historic and unprecedented formal election processes got underway ahead of this month’s Local Government elections.
EBC officials reported that the United National Congress (UNC), Congress of the People (COP), People’s National Movement (PNM), National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) and Independent Liberal Party (ILP), among others, submitted their lists of candidates for councillors and their lists of potential aldermen to be allocated on a system of proportional representation. Yesterday was Nomination Day, the formal day to do so.
Chief Election Officer Ramesh Nanan told Newsday no nomination papers were rejected as invalid and up to last night a team of officers were at work at the EBC headquarters preparing admission forms and notices for the taking of polls, formal procedures which must be complied with for the election to take place. The procedures involve the transcribing of information on nomination forms into electronic EBC databases for the purposes of processing and preparation of ballots.
“We will be working through the night as you can imagine this is a huge task,” Nanan said. He said there was a team of 53 returning officers and 15 liaison officers as well as a smaller teams of eight officers at Scott House, Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, where checks would also be conducted as the hundreds of names are processed. He said returning officers would have been charged with inspecting and validating nomination forms during the day, ensuring candidates supported their documents with the requisite statutory declaration forms; lived within the electoral district; were citizens and eligible to contest.
Then, further checks are conducted to transcribe information on the forms to ensure no errors, such as spelling and typos, occur. Information about each candidate such as address and occupation end up on ballots and there must be no mistake, Nanan said. He said no problems at the inspection of nominations were reported yesterday.
“I have no information of the rejection of any nomination papers at this moment,” Nanan said yesterday at about 5 pm.
The UNC and COP submitted separate lists of councillors and matching aldermen candidates since they have divided the corporations between themselves. The UNC, COP and PNM opted to submit their full quotas with the combined UNC/COP/NJAC submitting 136 candidates for councillors and 136 persons on aldermen lists. The PNM, similarly submitted 136 candidates for councillors and 136 for aldermen. However, it is understood the ILP submitted 135 candidates, according to a list the party released yesterday. It is understood that the ILP also did not utilise its full quota in terms of the filing of aldermen.
The aldermen lists are expected to be posted online at the EBC website today. The PNM released its full lists to the media yesterday. The UNC and COP were last night to announce their councillors but had not released any lists of aldermen to the media.
There were no independent candidates, Nanan said yesterday.
EBC chairman Dr Norbert Masson last night said, “the Chief Election Officer and his staff are at it still but in the morning (today) I expect a full report and list of all of the councillors and aldermen.”
While there were reports of a trouble-free process yesterday, one PNM official in Princes Town last night was quoted in a television report as saying there were some problems with two papers being rejected.
Even so, there was also an air of mutual respect as PNM, COP, and (ILP) candidates met at the EBC’s district offices at Palms Club, Pointe-a-Pierre Road, San Fernando yesterday.
COP candidate and cultural activist, Junior Bisnath, who filed nomination papers for the Les Efforts East/ Cipero electoral district was warmly greeted by former PNM San Fernando West parliamentarian, Junia Regrello, when he arrived at Palms Club. Bisnath said he had been asked by outgoing COP San Fernando Mayor, Dr Navi Muradali, to contest the district.
“It doesn’t matter what colour door I have to pass through to serve, whether it was red, yellow, or green, I am here to serve my country,” Bisnath said.
That sentiment was also echoed by PNM candidate for Les Efforts East/ Cipero, Sherry Ali, who described the Nomination Day process as “smooth and orderly”.
“My expectations for this campaign is to bring this electoral district back home to the People’s National Movement,” she said, adding that while she expected a “tough battle, anything worth having is worth fighting for and I’m ready to fight.”
Ali, accompanied by her 18-month-old son, Brayden, and her husband, Brian Mahaboob, said her family was “fully supportive” of her entry into the political arena.
Ali and fellow PNM candidates, Naigum Joseph and Anderson Williams, were accompanied by PNM supporters led by San Fernando co-ordinator, Kazim Hosein and Regrello.
Also filing her nomination papers was ILP candidate for the Springvale/ Paradise electoral district, Natalie Des Vignes, who said one of her main priorities would be the development of the community’s youth.
“I have lived at Broadway for 37 years so I know the hurt that people go through. People are hurting, so I think it is time I stand up for my people and try to help them,” she said. EBC returning officer Everil Ross, who had responsibility for overseeing the filing of nomination forms for three electoral districts in the Couva/ Tabaquite/ Talparo Regional Corporation, said all nine candidates from the three political parties had completed the nomination process by 10 am.
“They were here waiting for me,” he joked. Candidates were required to pay a $2,000 deposit.