Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Tennis election preckeh

Published:Friday | December 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM
John P. Azar
John Bailey
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The whole thing sounded like the kind of stuff you would hear at a general election in a country where democracy had gone horribly wrong. You don't associate that kind of news with a vote for the president of a local tennis association.

Seventy-five or 77 eligible voters were on the ballot, depending on who you choose to believe, and yet 83 votes were cast! I have spoken to people close to Tennis Jamaica who want to write this off as a mere error. That's a little difficult to accept. It's hard not to think someone was trying a little sleight of hand!

Where on earth did those extra votes come from? The incumbent, John Bailey, was being challenged by John Azar, and at the end of the whole voting process, neither could be declared president.

As someone who is a mere bystander, I have to wonder how difficult could it be to verify who were official delegates and who were not. Could that not be done on the night in question and get it over with? Now the voting process has been rescheduled to a later date.

Nobody I talked to seem to know exactly when this future date will be. In whose interest is that? I have spoken to several persons involved in this mysterious election, and the more I ask, the more enthralling the whole drama becomes. Accusations and counteraccusations are flying left, right and centre.

At one point, while talking to people from both camps, I couldn't help feeling that this was a general election where a whole lot more was at stake than who would preside over Tennis Jamaica for the next term. Members of one of the two camps are saying it is unethical that one of the persons who nominated one of the two candidates was himself part of a group that presided over the election. If that is true, that is interesting indeed.

New members, I am told, were not eligible to vote unless they had been paid-up members for at least 90 days prior to the election. One of the concerns by one camp is that some of the voters, though they were members, hadn't fully paid up money owed (which was part of the voting requirement) and yet were still allowed to vote. The 'other side' claims that this is just not true.

Persons close to the process claim that the challenger, Mr Azar, got 40 votes on the night. I spoke to one person who backed Mr Azar, who says his candidate can prove that all his 40 votes were legitimate, and with only 75 (or 77) legal votes available, he should be declared the winner as a matter of justice. What the person was saying is that if any hanky-panky took place, it was likely 'the other side' that was involved. Of course, the members loyal to the incumbent, Mr John Bailey, dismissed all that as mutterings that could not be substantiated.

 

Ballot fiasco

 

Another of the controversies coming from that night is one regarding the actual names of candidates. It is claimed that the understanding (certainly by one camp) is that voters who didn't write both names of the candidates, their ballots would be seen as spoilt ballots. This was a suggestion made by Leroy Brown, who was in charge of the process on the night. Leroy himself hasn't denied saying this, but told me it was a suggestion more than a 'rule'.

In the election itself, several people didn't write both names, but wrote 'Bailey' or 'Azar' without writing 'John'. One camp felt this was a breach that should mean things shouldn't go forward and those votes should be seen as spoilt. Others felt that this was a mere red herring, because surnames alone did indicate who people wanted to vote for.

The whole business is messy, and I maintain that someone was trying to hijack the process. Clearly, people got more ballots than they should have received. Was this mere coincidence? Or was someone trying something? The next election will be monitored closely by all concerned. My understanding is that the Electoral Office itself may be asked to help preside over the next election of Tennis Jamaica. What a preckeh! I will be following this one closely.

- Orville Higgins is a sports journalist and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.