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Nunez-Tesheira warns voters about PNM election process


Karen Nunez-Tesheira – AYANNA KINSALE

THE Karen Nunez-Tesheira-led team challenging for the leadership of the People’s National Movement (PNM) has issued another ultimatum to December 4 voters not to put their ballot books into the ballot box, until a number identifying the voter is removed.

This comes days after losing a court battle challenging the holding of elections on three days over a nine-day period.

At a news conference held at the Maraval Road, Port of Spain, office of her campaign manager, attorney Peter Taylor, Nunez-Tesheira insisted the process to keep the number on the ballot books, flies in the face of democracy the PNM prides itself in upholding.

The identifying number, she said, also coincides with statements made by the party’s political leader and Prime Minister on the campaign trail that he is closely watching those who support him.

“That certainly came out as a veiled threat,” she said, interpreting the statement to now mean that identifying the voter can lead to either reward or punishment, depending on who the voter supported in the leadership race.

“Our concern when you go into the polling station is that there is a number assigned to you that goes against your name and is also placed on your ballot book.”

During the counting of the ballots that number can easily be matched against the voter’s name on the master list which is the property of the Election Supervisory Committee (ESC)

“What should happen is that the page of the ballot book with that number should be torn out before the ballots are placed in the box.”

Bishop Victor Phillip, who is contesting the post of election officer on Nunez-Tesheira’s slate said it was an unfair system.

“Right now, people who voted on November 26 and 27 are worried because they did not vote for a particular person.”

Nunez-Tesheira questioned the point of having a democracy, “when you can tell who I voted for.

“This is our democracy. We have to insist and ensure that before the member votes, that number is destroyed.”

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She said she expects the majority of PNM will cast their votes on the third day of election on December 4, which is also the date of the PNM convention.

“That is your democratic right.

“The damage has already been done for people who voted on November 26 and 27. I am sorry for their experience.

“PNM members, please listen to us. Do not put your pamphlet (ballot book) into that box unless the identifying number is removed and cause the PNM to do the right thing, because that is the mechanism by which they would be able to tell who has voted for whom.”

Taylor said he was concerned, “because these are issue now impinging on the fundamental rights of citizens. It is a kind of creeping dictatorship from my point of view.

“Being in the Cabinet, I understand how people who are drunk with power can begin to manipulate the internal elections which then becomes a kind of a roadmap for other things. And this is where democracy is threatened, in my view.

“The party must operate, in any transformation, with integrity and transparency because that is what is going to be reflected in your national governance.”.