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TCI: Court Justice reports: Votes Must Count; Two Candidates rank higher, but General Election results unchanged

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#TurksandCaicos, June 10, 2021 – Two All Island Candidates got more votes than the final, official results showed and while this will not change the outcome of the general election, it does change how each person finished historically.  Both Jamell Robinson, an all island candidate on the PNP ticket and Karen Malcolm, an all island candidate for the PDM have moved up in placement because a block of voters were left out and off of their final tally.  This was concluded by Justice Carlos Simons, QC who accepted the request of the Governor to review the complaints of not one, but two candidates from the February 19 national poll.

“…His Excellency the Governor asked me to undertake this effort. Summarizing his email correspondence of 26 April and surrounding conversations, he noted the key objectives to be: a) Maintaining public confidence in the accuracy of the electoral process; b) Understanding the details that underpin Hon. Robinson’s complaint and whether and what remedy is/was available, and if there were courses of action open to him under the Ordinance that he could or should have utilized to ensure that this late challenge was not needed; and c) Produce a Report on this basis or any other basis necessary as befitting a matter touching and concerning the Constitution and the democratic process. 10. A day later His Excellency brought to my attention a similar complaint from Hon. Karen Malcolm and asked that I widen the scope of my inquiry to include that, to which I agreed,” outlined Simons in his report, which was made public on June 8, 2021.

 Justice Simons said Turks and Caicos was fortunate, this time around that the discrepancies in tallies for the concerned candidates did not change the overall election results, but strongly advises that changes be made and recommendations taken on how to ensure this never happens again. 

“We are lucky that in neither case was the diminishment of votes sufficient to affect the overall result of the election for either candidate or for their Parties. And in the absence of any evidence of fraud, it seems to me the proper response would be to see how the system can be made less vulnerable such human errors in the future. Before we go there however, I have been asked to consider what remedies the candidates might have availed themselves of under the Ordinance.”

Simons, a former candidate himself said what was most bothersome to him was that voters who would have wanted their voice to be heard in their selection of a candidate would have been missed out, had the candidates not questioned their individual and cumulative results. 

“The entitlement to vote is provided for by s. 55 (5) of the Constitution and s. 10 of the Ordinance. The issue in play in both cases here is important because each miscounted vote, or uncounted vote represents a denial, or at least a distortion of the electors’ right to choose their representatives in the House of Assembly. The fact that the numbers by which the votes of these two candidates were under reported were not sufficient to affect the overall outcome is not relevant to this fundamental consideration.”

In the case of Karen Malcolm, who was on her second run as an at large candidate; her final results after ballot counting left out all of the people who voted for her in North and Middle Caicos or ED4.  All 39 of the votes cast were left off the tally.  It takes her from the recorded 2,491 votes nationally to 2,530; she finishes in sixth place and as the top performing People’s Democratic Movement candidate; a step up from second. 

In the case of Jamell Robinson, he was shorted 82 votes and the shortfall came in The Bight, ED6.  It makes Robinson, as he had claimed, the second best performing candidate not just for the Progressive National Party but overall; falling second to Washington Misick, with his now confirmed 3,500 votes. 

The Governor in releasing the full report concludes that he accepts the findings and conclusions; explaining Justice Simons did the work pro bono.

“I accept all of his conclusions and recommendations as do the Candidates and the Supervisor of Elections.

Of importance to the two ‘All Island Candidates’, and to those who voted for them in two electoral districts, Justice Simons concludes that: Honourable Jamell Robinson and Honourable Karen Malcolm both polled more votes in ED6 and ED4 respectively than were recorded in the final election results.  The accompanying conclusion is also important because had those additional votes impacted the election results, then the impact would be significant.  That conclusion is however that the number of votes made no difference to the election result, in either case,” said the Governor in his statement on the Election Discrepancies Report.

Suggestions have been made by both Robinson and Malcolm on what “guard-rails” could be established to avoid any repeat and “These improvements will therefore be incorporated by the Supervisor of Elections in future elections,” advised Governor Dakin. 

The Governor reiterated, there was no election fraud and that electoral law is uninterested in the ranking of the five all island candidates; only that the top five finishers be counted as members of the House of Assembly and in this case, fortunately, all five of them are.

“In terms of whether the official election result – in terms of numbers polled – can be retrospectively changed, the answer is that it cannot. As far as electoral law is concerned, the Ordinance is entirely uninterested in the relative ranking of ‘All Island Candidates’ save to say they are either in the top five, or they are not.  They win or they lose. They gain a place in the House of Assembly or they do not.  While Justice Simons does not say it, the fact that such rankings may or may not be important in terms of internal party considerations, is not the concern of the law nor, therefore, the Supervisor of Elections or the Courts who must be guided by it. Justice Simons explains in his report the error made no difference to the election result, and that is all the Elections Ordinance seeks to achieve,” explained HE Nigel Dakin in his June 8 statement.  

Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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