Supervisor of Elections says removal of ballot box a mystery
Front Page
April 5, 2007
Supervisor of Elections says removal of ballot box a mystery

The election ballot box discovered downstairs the Government Printery building got there because of negligence on the part of the office of the Supervisor of Elections or worse, a gross act of malice and mischievousness.{{more}}

This is according to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves who spoke to the press at a hastily convened press briefing at the Electoral Office on Monday.

This is after six, 13-year-old boys, who were playing table tennis upstairs the Government Printery last Saturday, reportedly found the box when they went searching in the dark for a tennis ball, in an unlocked area, downstairs the building.

Describing the issue as a lesson for the office of the Supervisor of Elections, Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that when he found out which constituency the ballot box was from and that the ballot papers found in it reflected the results recorded from the election, he knew that there could be no question of the integrity of the elections.

The stack of North Windward ballot boxes where the missing box should have been.

The box found contained the ballot papers from polling station B from the Owia Government School polling station in North Windward. That box result was 189 to the New Democratic Party, 90 to the Unity Labour Party and no vote for the SVG Green Party.

Head of the Criminal Investigation Department, Ekron Lockhart told the press that the young men who found the box came to his office at around 3:15 p.m. last Saturday and related to him what had happened, including the fact that when they found the box, they opened it and checked the ballots inside.

Superintendent Lockhart said that the young men told him that when they stumbled on the box they thought that it may have been a treasure. When they initially checked the ballots in the box, after they broke it open, the young men found 187 ballots for the NDP but then located the other two in the same area when they returned to the scene with Superintendent Lockhart.

There was no sign of forced entry and the parents of the boys were summoned by the police – three turned up. Superintendent Lockhart said that the box was in his office and the investigation into the matter was continuing. He however declined to divulge the line of his investigations.

For his part, Supervisor of Elections Rodney Adams explained that because of the increased number in polling stations for the December 7, 2005 General Elections, the excess ballot boxes were stored downstairs the old Printery Building in a locked room.

Adams said that the removal of the box remains a mystery.

“It may be that someone with access to the building removed the box,” Adams said.

He also noted that his office was always concerned about the security of the ballot boxes and vowed to look into the security of the area.

As to why the ballots had not yet been destroyed Adams said that

while it can be destroyed a year after the polls that there was no rush to destroy them.

The last general elections saw claims by the opposition party that there were irregularities in at least three closely contested seats. There were talks of legal action being taken in protest of the result in Central Kingstown ( ULP 1,981- NDP 1,965), West Kingstown (ULP 2,012 – NDP 1,977) and North Leeward (ULP 1,980 – NDP 1,958).