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St James Election Day workers barred

Published:Tuesday | February 7, 2012 | 7:31 PM

The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) has barred the people who worked in the December 29 general election in East Central St James from working in that constituency in the upcoming local government election.

This follows the suspected tampering of 162 ballots of security personnel and Election Day workers who voted on December 22 ahead of the general election.

At the same time, the returning officer for the constituency and his assistant have both resigned to facilitate a further probe into the matter.

Edmund Bartlett, the Member of Parliament for East Central St James had called for the Election Day workers to be fired, claiming that there was a clear, deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of the polls.

All 162 ballots were rejected in a magisterial recount because they had more than one mark on them.

In a release late this evening, the ECJ said it undertook extensive interviews with several persons in whose custody the ballots were placed at one time or another after they were cast on December 22.

But the ECJ says the investigation cannot be concluded just yet because the necessary inspection and scrutiny of the ballots and other documents from the implicated Polling Division 50 are prohibited by Section 52 of the Representation of the People Act.

Section 52 (2) of the Act bars any inspection of election documents or election papers in the custody of the Director of Elections within one year following Election Day, except on the order of a Judge of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal.

The judge may grant such an order if he is satisfied that the inspection of the documents will assist in the prosecution of an election offence or for the purpose of an election petition which has been filed.

The ECJ says since there has been no prosecution of any election offence, or the filing of an election petition, no application can be made to a Judge to scrutinize the documents.

Section 52 of the Act allows for the inspection of the election documents after one year, should an application be made to, and granted by, the ECJ chairman and the Commission says it is preparing to continue the investigation at that time.