The Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) is being accused by the People's National Movement (PNM) of engaging in a vigorous electronic canvassing campaign on polling day, in violation of the electoral codes and laws which forbid any canvassing on polling day.
PNM Political Leader Dr Keith Rowley said this morning that the PNM was being "bombarded" by a huge number of reports of people saying that the TOP had put in place a canvassing method on the telephone (both land and cell lines) in breach of the election rules.
Election rules forbid canvassing on polling day and it is an offence to do so.
The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) this morning responded to the claim.
The EBC issued a media release stating "It has come to the attention of the Elections and Boundaries Commission that potential voters are receiving text messages and or phone calls urging them to vote for a particular political party. The Commission wishes to advise that persons receiving such requests while in the precincts of a polling station should report the matter to the police".
Rowley claimed that the TOP had gotten the telephone logs of voters in Tobago and had put in place in electronic voice caller whereby people were being phoned and told to vote for the party.
"Persons have reported to us that they have received two and three callers already for the morning by this canvassing method," he said. He added that the PNM was getting a "flood of calls, because this thing (canvassing) is going on non-stop" and "people are very distressed and concerned".
Rowley said people in Tobago expected the Government to try and steal in the election. "That is the worrisome thing and I am getting that feeling here in Tobago," he said, adding that there was the same feeling in Trinidad. "And this morning we wake up to the electronic canvassing by the TOP...while the rest of us are observing the laws," he said.
He said it was a clear example of how the People's Partnership was not prepared to observe the ethical standards of Trinidad and Tobago and was prepared to do anything for and to hold on to office.
"We have never had this kind of problem before, parties organising to undermine the electoral safeguards in this way. And the PNM is calling on the TOP to observe the ethical standards of our electoral process," Rowley said.
"This is an action meant to undermine the electoral process, to disregard the safeguards and the laws to benefit the Government of Trinidad and TObago. And I am calling on the people of Trinidad and Tobago to observe the behaviour of those who so badly want office that they are prepared to disregard the laws, rules, regulations, codes and ethical standards. And if they are going to do this to get into office, you have to ask yourself, what will they do if they ever get into office. Because these are yardsticks and harbingers of things to come if they get themselves into authority".
"We are concerned and we are taking strong objection to the Government doing this because this must have been organised by the Government. And when we warn the people of Tobago about the behaviour of this Government. This is yet another example of the Government lack of ethical standards and a willingness to break the laws and to cheat and deceive. You cannot trust them," he said.
Rowley said this was why when "everybody else" was predicting defeat for the TOP, the People's Partnership was predicting victory for the coalition.
Rowley said he was alerting the EBC to be vigilant and to seek to
put a stop to this breach. He said the public relations department of the PNM in Tobago is liaising with the EBC on the issue.