Last update: 12-Dec-2013 4:50 am
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Ian Alleyne fails to vote
United National Congress by-election candidate Ian Alleyne became embroiled in controversy today over whether he was eligible to vote in the St Joseph constituency, after it was discovered he was registered to vote in the constituency by the Elections and Boundaries Commission, although he gave them an address in Couva when he registered as a candidate.
Eventually, however, Alleyne, after consultations with a team of lawyers, did not vote.
The issue arose after members of the media got a release from Alleyne’s camp on Sunday saying he would vote at the Cipriani Labour College, off the Churchill Roosevelt Highway, Valsayn, at 10 am yesterday.
This puzzled the media, since the EBC had given Alleyne’s address on its official listing of candidates as 21 Sevilla, Brechin Castle, Couva.
Checks with EBC officials, however, revealed that there was an Ian Leslie Alleyne registered to vote at 49 Palm Road, St Joseph.
Frantic calls to both the EBC and Alleyne’s camp followed, with the media trying to confirm whether Alleyne could in fact vote.
Alleyne is known to have a home at Brechin Castle in Couva. This was confirmed today by his campaign manager, Dhanraj Sirjoo.
In a telephone interview, Sirjoo said Alleyne’s lawyers were trying to get things right and “legal people” were dealing with it and making sure it was justified, adding Alleyne had to work under regulations.
He added that Alleyne was born and raised in the Valsayn area, near the Kay Donna cinema, but now lives in Brechin Castle.
Outside, at the UNC mock polling station, one of the agents said Alleyne was registered at Palm Road, Valsayn. The EBC listing had Alleyne at 49 Palm Road, Valsayn.
In the interim, Alleyne’s camp forwarded a new e-mail to the media saying he would turn up to vote at 1 pm. This was also then postponed and a new time of between 4.30 pm and 5 pm was forwarded to the media. When contacted after this last e-mail, members of Alleyne’s team said the reason for the further delay was because he was “out in the field.”
The T&T Guardian decided to visit the Palm Road address, which housed an apartment complex. Five tenants there said they did not know who Alleyne was and no one by that name or matching his description lived there.
The Guardian was directed to the nearby Woodland Road, where it was believed several people connected to the UNC campaign were based. A woman at a house claimed she had rented one of the Palm Road apartments to the government for $10,000 for one month.
Attempts to contact Alleyne were unsuccessful, as he did not answer calls to his cellphone. Calls to his campaign team seeking information were also unsuccessful, as they claimed not to know where he was.
Shelly Dolabaille, EBC communications officer, said someone could vote even if they had an old address on their identification card.
“If the person did not change, they can use their old address, but we don’t encourage that,” she said.
Dolabaille said, however, that she did not wish to make any statement that was incorrect and subsequently sent a copy of a rule on eligibility to vote which is posted on the EBC website.
An EBC official, who asked not to be identified, said the Couva would have been what was given at the time Alleyne filed his nomination. He said the EBC had got no information since then that any of the candidates had relocated. When someone gave a registration address, he said, the EBC verified it by sending workers out in the field to check.
However, contrary to this EBC release, there was information on its Web site about one Ian Leslie Alleyne. Under “check your registration” on the Web site at www.ebctt.com, the address for Ian Leslie Alleyne is Palm Road, St Joseph.
The T&T Guardian called back the EBC official, who then said, “Well, so be it. It is crystal clear that he (Ian Alleyne) lives in the area. That would not have been on the Web site if he was not a resident of St Joseph.”
The EBC official said if Alleyne lived in Couva it would not be possible for him to vote in St Joseph, unless he qualified under the Representation of the People Act. A voter can qualify under the act by being a resident of the area for two months.
“Alleyne might have been living in Couva up to two months ago and then changed his residency to St Joseph,” the EBC source said.
Alleyne filed his nomination papers on October 14, 21 days ago, according to news reports. The Couva address was given on those forms.
Eligibility to vote
(i) A person is qualified to be an elector for an electoral district at a parliamentary, regional corporation, Tobago House of Assembly, city or borough election if on the qualifying date he has resided in that electoral district for a period of at least two months preceding the qualifying date, and
· has resided for a period of at least two months immediately preceding that date in that electoral district; or
· has resided within ten miles of the city or borough for a period of at least 12 months immediately preceding that date, and during the period has owned or occupied property in the city or borough of an annual rateable value of not less than $60.
Voting at Cipriani Labour College
People’s National Movement (PNM) candidate Terrence Deyalsingh, who voted at the Cipriani College polling station, admitted to being surprised that Alleyne’s name was on the voters’ list. He said his team was investigating “certain problems” which were brought to his attention.
“We have people addressing concerns and that is being sorted out,” he told the Guardian.
When questioned about Alleyne’s eligibility to vote, he said: “That is one sordid piece of the puzzle and I will let the EBC work that out. If the EBC says yes, who is me to say?”
Deyalsingh said he was very confident and his team had worked for every single vote.
After voting, Speaker Wade Mark said he did not want to be part of the “politicking.”
“All I can say is that the voting process was very smooth and as a citizen of T&T I exercised my franchise. The office is very neutral,” he said.
Senator Penelope Beckles-Robinson, who also voted at the polling station, forecast a victory for the PNM.
“It is very important and the turnout was high. We will wait and see. I don’t want to gauge what will happen,” she said. “The campaign was aggressive and I myself walked with the candidate. We believe people understand the importance of it.
“I expect Terrence (Deyalsingh) will do good. He has been in the Senate with me and he is a good candidate and I am looking to victory for the PNM.”
Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Economy Vasant Bharath and businessman Ishwar Galbaransigh also visited the polling station.
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