US-based Trinidadian author Nathalie Taghaboni, right, recently returned home to launch her latest book, Side By Side We Stand.
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Door open for 7,000 rejected PNM voters
The People’s National Movement’s (PNM’s) preliminary voters list for its May 18 internal election is now out in constituencies and members have until next week Thursday to make adjustments, additions or fix issues before the final list is done on April 30, PNM elections commission vice-chairman Murchison Browne has confirmed. That leaves a door open for almost 7,000 persons who have been rejected from the preliminary list to regularise their status before the final list is done on April 30, he also confirmed when asked about that situation.
Browne was contacted yesterday following complaints by PNM’s general secretary Ashton Ford, who is defending his post against others in the election, and confirmation that PNM rejected approximately 7,000 applicants, after several irregularities were noted. Ford has detailed irregularities, saying people were using photocopied forms and incomplete on-line registration. He also reportedly said on the basis of his detailed report presented to PNM’s General Council on Monday, the council voted unanimously to accept the preliminary list, including approximately 12,000 new applicants and over 2,000 re-registrations.
The preliminary list so far for the new one-man-one-vote system to be used in the election, comprises 79,363 people, Browne confirmed yesterday. This is thousands more than the 800 used under the previous delegate system. But after Ford’s confirmation about rejection of 7,000 applicants from the preliminary list, Dr Bose Sharma—from the camp of leadership challenger Pennelope Beckles-Robinson—said that group was appealing to PNM’s Election Commission to ensure persons have a chance to address minor registration problems. Sharma said their camp had over 8,000 on-line registrations and about 7,000 were rejected.
He said if there were irregularities that would have stemmed from the “selective way” registration forms were given out in the first stage of the process in which many Beckles-Robinson’s supporters could not get forms. Sharma added: “People therefore went on-line to get forms which is a valid option and any which were not filled out properly would, of course, bounce back. When registration was accepted, people got their receipt. “But a majority of on-line applicants especially, who are new young voices, are being rejected...it seems the other camp is bent on keeping them out of the process.”
He questioned if so many issues were arising in the internal poll bringing PNM into disrepute, “what will happen if Dr Rowley gets into power in T&T?” Elections commission’s Browne said his team had no formal complaint about the situation including about 7,000 rejected voters but if any complaint was officially received, it would be dealt with. He said the preliminary list of 79,363 voters was now before all constituencies and constituents had up to April 24 to ensure their status was properly in order before the final list is done on April 30. Browne said those persons considered to have irregularities in their registration “will know what they have to do” to ensure their situations were regularised and they were eligible to vote.