The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has dismissed a claim by former prime minister Kamla Persad Bissessar that her coalition People’s Partnership had been denied victory in Monday’s general election as a result of the EBC’s decision to extend the time allotted for voting. The coalition said it was challenging the results based on the unilateral decision of the EBC to extend the voting period by one hour due to the inclement weather. “The rules which govern a general election are quite clear. Strict adherence to these rules is absolutely necessary to minimize and avoid irregularities. Failure to do so will result in allegations and perceptions of unfairness and favouritism.” Persad Bissessar said that the information and data received by the party “strongly suggested that the People’s Partnership was comfortably ahead in the polls at 6:00 pm. The march to victory adversely affected by the sudden unilateral decision by the EBC to extend hours of the poll from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm”.
She said that the “EBC cannot and should not change the rules of engagement without giving proper notice to candidates, political parties and voters.”
But in a statement, the EBC said that “Section 71 of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, which establishes the Elections and Boundaries Commission also mandates its autonomy over the registration of voters and the conduct of elections in every constituency.
“Additionally, the constitution allows the Commission to exercise their powers in an unfettered manner. Therefore, the decision to extend the hours of the poll finds its basis within the constitutional supervisory jurisdiction of the Commission in all election management matters,” the EBC added.