JLP’s Lawrence smells victory in recount
Daniel Lawrence of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has turned the corner and widened the gap on People’s National Party’s (PNP) opponent Luther Buchanan in the race for the Westmoreland Eastern seat.
Buchanan, the incumbent, has been trailing his challenger in the court-awarded votes that were previously rejected by the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) since the first day of the magisterial recount last Friday.
Buchanan ended Monday’s magisterial recount with 15 of the rejected votes, to Lawrence’s 26 – a lead that could prove ultimately decisive in a parliamentary seat that was deadlocked at the final count before the returning officer’s tie-breaking vote.
O’Neil Brown, lead attorney for Lawrence, is optimistic that his client will emerge the victor with 10 boxes to be counted today.
‘Based on what transpired today, we are of the considered view that the numbers are on our side and we feel confident that, should the numbers go as we have assessed them, our candidate, Mr Lawrence, will be victorious,” Brown told The Gleaner at the end of Monday’s court hearing.
Alleged voter irregularities
But Maurice McCurdy, attorney for Buchanan, said that even if the magisterial recount favours Lawrence, the JLP candidate would be a placeholder for his client’s return to Gordon House.
McCurdy said that steps were being undertaken to have the election results of September 3 voided and the race rerun because of alleged voter irregularities in more than one polling division.
“This matter is sure to go to the elections court. As I understand it, someone was taken into custody today (Monday) for voter impersonation or voting in a polling station where he was not entitled to vote,” McCurdy disclosed.
“That shows contamination in that polling division and we will be making an application to void that polling division and have a rerun in the Supreme Court,” he added.
When contacted, the Westmoreland police could only confirm that a report has been filed and an investigation has commenced into the matter.
With 10 boxes still to be counted, the JLP’s Lawrence received 2,088 votes to Buchanan’s 1,702. Independent candidate Haile MiKa’el mustered 12 to end the third day of recounting.
From the 107 boxes representing 105 polling divisions in the constituency, Lawrence has 4,543 votes to Buchanan’s 4,253. MiKa’el has 30.
The magisterial recount was filed by attorneys for the JLP after Buchanan was declared the winner earlier last week following the returning officer’s vote.
That vote was to break the 4,834 tie between the candidates after Sunday’s official recount.
The magisterial recount continues today at 10 a.m. before Judge Steve Walters.