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Preliminary results from 33 of the 41 constituencies show PNM leader Keith Rowley won Sunday’s PNM election with a landslide 14,621 votes, in comparison to challenger Pennelope Beckles-Robinson’s 1,235. This was confirmed yesterday by PNM election commission vice chairman Murchison Brown. Speaking at 5.15 pm as counting continued, Brown said preliminary results also indicated Team Rowley made a clean sweep of all 15 executive posts that were contested. Counting, which began after polls closed on Sunday night, halted around 6 am yesterday and resumed around midday yesterday. Brown said he expected all results to be in by today.
Brown indicated other preliminary results for five of the 15 posts showed the Rowley slate had beaten their Team Penny rivals more than three to one. “And we still have to add the results from the eight other constituencies being counted,” Brown said. A total of 34 candidates contested the poll: a full slate of 15 from Team Rowley, 13 from Team Penny and six independents. Over 81,500 members were listed to vote in the one-man/one-vote system, used for the first time by the PNM. Election commission chairman Charles Mitchell said between 20 and 30 per cent of the eligible voters turned out. He said he was satisfied with the response, since it was the level initially estimated for the exercise. He said the PNM had better turnout levels than the UNC and he had received calls of congratulation from members of Team Penny as well as Team Rowley.
The highest turnouts were in the Diego Martin constituencies, San Fernando and St Joseph, Mitchell said. Acknowledging that there were “glitches” in the system, Mitchell said these were mainly due to the way the list was constructed. He said some people had changed residence and were living in different areas from those for which they had been registered; the party would rectify the situation, he said, so that names would be placed in the appropriate polling divisions. Mitchell said the party had no shortage of human resources to man operations, but financially, there were constraints that limited the number of polling stations for the exercise. He said there had been no reports of confrontations. Since this was the first time the system was used, it required a lot of work, he said, and some changes in the system could be expected in the future, following delivery of the post-election report to the party’s General Council.