Eustace calls for immediate removal of SOE
October 4, 2016
Eustace calls for immediate removal of SOE

President of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace has once again called for the resignation of supervisor of elections (SOE) Sylvia Findlay.

During a press conference held by the New Democratic Party (NDP) last week, Eustace gave several reasons why, in the opinion of the NDP, Findlay should vacate her post.{{more}}

Reading from a prepared statement, Eustace said a few days after the December 9, 2015 general elections, the SOE affirmed her office’s commitment to free, fair and transparent elections, yet opposed the application by candidate for Central Leeward, Benjamin Exeter to inspect the ballots.

“If the election was free, fair and transparent, what was the harm in showing that? That was her first inconsistency in the post-election period.”

Eustace said despite claims in sworn affidavits by Findlay and two other election officials that the lawyer for the NDP and Exeter lied in claiming that there was improper sealing of ballot boxes and mutilation of ballots, their story was later corroborated by the observer from the Organization of the American States (OAS).

The NDP president noted that strike three came after Justice Brian Cottle, in his judgement against Exeter’s application to inspect the ballots, stated that it would be possible to tell how each person voted if the ballots and counterfoils were inspected.

“Public confusion ensued and the judge’s statement became the subject of radio call-in programmes and even an online video which went viral. Yet there was a deafening silence from the supervisor of elections on what was undeniably at variance with the RPA (Representation of the People’s Act),” he noted.

Furthermore Eustace said that the SOE has done nothing to calm voters’ fears that their votes are not a secret.

“She refused to say that the ballots in the 2015 general election she supervised were designed and printed in accordance with law and therefore individual voters’ choices could not be known. She failed to defend the secrecy of the ballot following the judgment.”

The Leader of the Opposition also said to arrive at his judgement in the inspection matter, Justice Cottle “relied on, among other things, the sworn affidavit of the supervisor of elections.

“Imagine then the shock that ensued when the supervisor wrote to her lawyers two weeks after the judgment, seeking to change her said affidavit. In particular she wanted to change aspects of her sworn evidence about the ballots,” Eustace said.

The Opposition Leader then referred to an incident that took place on September 23, in which Anthony Astaphan, the lawyer who represented the SOE in the inspection application and in the petitions, said on radio that each ballot bears a number which corresponds with the number on the counterfoil.

“…[This] would therefore mean once more that there is no secrecy of the ballot; that the ballots were not designed and printed in compliance with law…” Eustace added.

Astaphan retracted the statement later that day, saying he had mixed up the RPA of St Kitts and Nevis with the local law.

Eustace said despite Astaphan’s statement, Findlay is once again silent.

“Bear in mind, these are Mrs Findlay-Scrubb’s failures regarding the ballots. I am yet to receive a response to my letter to her requesting the list of transfers into constituencies since the December elections. Mrs Findlay-Scrubb continues to display contempt and impunity,” Eustace said.

Eustace criticized the SOE for “…her intermittent silence, her inconsistencies, her acts and omissions about the secrecy of the ballot, the composition of the ballots, the procedure employed by Electoral Officers at the election and the counts, her general conduct of the December 2015 general elections…

“By that silence, and by those inconsistencies, Mrs Findlay-Scrubb is contributing to an atmosphere of fear and alarm among the entire electorate, and especially among those who vote against the ULP, that they vote at risk of being discovered. Her alternating inconsistencies and silence have created nationwide alarm and concern about the integrity of the electoral system. One need look no further than the record-setting 288-day Frontline protest outside the office of the supervisor of elections to find public concern about her conduct of the elections,” Eustace said.

“All of which points the nation to one logical imperative: having lost all credibility the supervisor of elections Mrs Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb must be removed from office immediately. The supervisor must go! It has long been clear that Mrs Findlay-Scrubb ought to tender her resignation. If she refuses to do so, the Minister of National Security, Air and Sea Port Development Dr Ralph Gonsalves – under whose responsibility falls the electoral office – must remove her….,” he said.

Findlay could not be reached for comment, as she is on vacation.(CM)