Tue | Oct 27, 2020

Attorneys call for reform after the end of magisterial recount

Published:Saturday | September 19, 2020 | 12:10 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
Jubilant People's National Party supporters in St Catherine North Western.
Jubilant People's National Party supporters in St Catherine North Western.

Attorneys representing winning People’s National Party candidate for St Catherine North Western Hugh Graham and the Jamaica Labour Party’s Newton Amos have jointly called for reform to the present configuration of the ballots.

Speaking to The Gleaner at the end of a magisterial recount in which Graham received 5,371 votes to Amos’ 5,223, a difference of 148 votes, both parties’ attorneys, Oswest Senior-Smith, representing Graham, and Lancelot Clarke Jr, representing Amos, agreed that the mistakes they observed could be corrected with a little more attention from the Electoral Office of Jamaica.

Amos was awarded three extra votes to add to his final tally of 5,220, while Graham lost three votes, reducing his final count from 5,374 to 5,371 at the recount, which lasted for four days in the St Catherine Parish Court and saw 118 boxes being counted.

“A little bit more imagination can be put into the configuration of the ballots. Perhaps the symbols could be colour-coded and a neutral colour for the independent candidate,” Senior-Smith opined.

“We also noticed that the marks were placed outside of the boxes. The actual space on the ballot paper should be expanded so that the ‘X’ can be properly placed beside the symbol of choice, which would be easier for voters to clearly identify which colour they want to vote for,” he added.

ACCEPTING RESULTS

Clarke Jr, in accepting the results, said the recount closed this chapter in what was a disparity between the preliminary results of 22 votes and the final count of 153.

“This is closure to what we considered to be a disparity in margin,” he said.

Clarke supported the call for reform in the configuration of the ballots to make them more voter-friendly.

“In relation to where the box is placed on the ballot, it is not clearly defined, and if you are not looking carefully, anyone could easily put the mark outside the box and cause problems with the voter’s intent. Furthermore, if there are marks outside the box, it is not counted as a valid vote,” he told The Gleaner.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament-elect Hugh Graham said he thanked the Lord for allowing the recount to stand.

“I also want to thank all the voters in the constituency who, despite the coronavirus, came out to vote for me,” he said.

Graham added: “I pledge to them that they won’t be disappointed, and the same love they have given me, I will return to them.”

He said that his priority is to bring two health centres to the constituency, one in Lluidas Vale and the other in Treadways. He also supported the call for ballot reform.