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'Many acts' of voter padding

Alleyne-Toppin: I have proof...

By Elizabeth Williams Tobago Bureau

Tobago East Member of Parliament Vernella Alleyne-Toppin has claimed there were acts of voter padding in last Monday's Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election and many of the voters were not legitimate residents of Tobago.

The People's National Movement (PNM) swept the polls against the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP), winning all 12 seats.

"This is not a question of sour grapes. I congratulate the PNM on their overwhelming victory, however, I have the paperwork to prove there are a number of persons who voted in the election that are not resident citizens in Tobago. Persons from the United States, Barbados, Trinidad and Grenada voted," Alleyne-Toppin said.

In response, THA Chief Secretary and PNM Tobago Council leader Orville London said if the TOP has a problem with the result of the election they can take it up with the Election and Boundaries Commission (EBC).

An EBC official told the Express the final list had a total of 46,601 people in Tobago eligible to vote and the Commission had not received any letter indicating the TOP's concerns.

"Once your name is not on the list you are not eligible to vote. One can register but may not be eligible or qualify as an elector to vote. If the total list of persons registered is matched against the total number of persons qualified to vote, there would be a significant difference."

The EBC official added that approximately 65 per cent of those eligible voted in the THA election, a larger turnout than usual.

Alleyne-Toppin, asked if the TOP put their claims to the EBC, said that will be up to the TOP and the party will do what is necessary. And on whether TOP leader Ashworth Jack should step down following the whipping at the polls, Alleyne-Toppin said: "Mr. Jack at this time remains leader of the TOP. I will continue to support him and when the time is right the TOP will vote whether or not the leadership of the party should change."

She said following the THA election she feels a sense of peace and calm and has become a lot wiser than before. She said she understands the issues that came into play in the election and is analysing and conducting specific scientific reasonings on the way forward.

"I understand what happened and the improvements needed and I respect the voters and the outcome of the election. I will continue to serve the people."

On the comments made by United National Congress (UNC) chairman Jack Warner that race and tribalism played a part in the outcome, Alleyne-Toppin said: "The issue of race is so unfortunate and a bad place for us to step into. Our watchwords—discipline, production and tolerance—do not support what is best for the county.

"Tolerance is not good enough, this word should be replaced with appreciation. All races need to be appreciated, whether differences and similarities."

She said a number of hoteliers have complained to her that they have had cancellations from people of East Indian origin who claim to be scared to visit Tobago.

"I have heard reports of persons who have been assaulted and verbally abused because they are of East Indian descent."

However, Christopher James, vice-president of the Hotel and Tourism Association, said he had not received such reports, but will look into the matter. Nicholas Harwicke, president of the Hotel and Tourism Association, is out of the country.

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