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'70% voter turnout'

By Irene Medina Associate Editor

Preliminary counts have revealed that there was a voter turnout of 70 per cent in Monday's Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections—as compared to 2009, when the turnout was 56.39 per cent.

These figures were given yesterday by acting Chief Elections Officer Nanan.

The preliminary vote count for each party—the People's National Movement (PNM), the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) and The Platform of Truth (TPT)—according to Nanan, was as follows:

PNM — 19, 919 votes;

TOP — 11, 927 votes;

The TPT — 656 votes.

This means 32,502 people voted from an electoral list of 46,607 registered voters. Nanan said when the final results are properly formulated, all relevant parties would be officially informed and the commission would prepare the after-elections report for submission to the Minister of Local Government, Surujrattan Rambachan.

With the THA election out of the way, the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has now gone into preparatory mode for the upcoming Local Government elections, due after July 2013.

Nanan said yesterday: "We must await the date to be announced by the Prime Minister after the three-year anniversary in July... and of course there is the three month limit, after the anniversary date."

He recalled in the past that the government of the day (the PNM) had gone to Parliament and had extended the three month limit to a longer period. He said the last time local government election was held was in July 2010.

Nanan said the commission was happy with its performance in the just concluded THA election on Monday. "We are satisfied with all the measures we put in place for an efficient and effective election," he said, adding that whatever issues came up that were not planned for would be discussed when the commission holds its post mortem on the event.

For instance, he said the controversial issue of electronic canvassing on polling day is to be discussed.

"It will engage the attention of the Commission, since it is a new issue and the Commission will seek to take a proactive approach to deal with issues of this kind immediately," he said.

Nanan admitted that persons who raised complaints about electronic canvassing with the EBC on Monday were advised to go to the police, but he confirmed that this was the first time that the issue had surfaced on polling day.

Some voters claimed they had received automated messages on their cell phones advising them to vote for the TOP, but when questioned about it, TOP leader Ashworth Jack said he was unaware of the matter but that he would look into it.

According to Nanan, as at the noon deadline yesterday for recount requests, no such requests had been made. "As such, once the EBC is satisfied that there are no request for recount by the deadline, then all that was left for me to do was to inform the chief administrator of the THA of the official outcome of the elections, that is the candidates who were elected," he said.

When the Express spoke with Nanan, he was in the process of doing this.

He also indicated that the "new THA executive is expected to be installed on Thursday (January 24) and His Excellency, The President will be doing this." See Page 5.

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