UNC still opposed to EBC tech test in Tobago

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Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar – FILE PHOTO/SUREASH CHOLAI

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar maintained the Opposition UNC’s objection to the Elections and Boundaries Commission’s (EBC) proposed use of technology at polling stations in Tobago on Monday, during the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election.

Persad-Bissessar reiterated the UNC’s objection to this exercise in a signed letter to EBC Chief Elections Officer Fern Narcis-Scope on Friday.

The EBC held a demonstration of the technology to be used at some stations on Monday, at the Magdalena Grand Hotel in Lowlands, Tobago on Saturday. In her letter, Persad-Bissessar described the EBC’s decision to proceed with this exercise without consulting the UNC, as absolutely unacceptable.

While the UNC is fielding no candidates in Monday’s election, Persad-Bissessar said, “As the official opposition in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago, we are a key stakeholders in the democratic process.”

The Opposition, she claimed, “has the primary responsibility to uphold the democratic process and to defend the Constitution from abuse by the Government and by the State as a whole.”

The technology being used by the EBC may not be limited to Tobago and could be used in Trinidad as well.

Persad-Bissessar claimed the technology the EBC will use on Monday is vague and unclear.

“We (UNC) would like to know by what law is the EBC empowered to make such a radical change to the electoral process and why the EBC believes it is lawful to ignore the consultation with the Opposition on such a change.”

She claimed the EBC knew in advance about testing this technology in polling stations in Tobago on Monday and did not inform political parties about it in a timely manner.

On Friday, PDP political leader Watson Duke released a letter the party received from Narcis-Scope inviting them to witness the testing of the technology on Saturday. In the same letter, Narcis-Scope reiterated that the traditional manual process for gathering and counting ballots on Monday’s election.

She also assured Duke that extensive precautions have been put in place by the EBC to ensure that voters can exercise their franchise safely in accordance with covid19 protocols. No one from the PDP attended the demonstration.

The UNC, Persad-Bissessar said, will be seeking an urgent meeting with the commission to raise several matters on this issue. These include the origin of the policy, what data is being collected and how vulnerable is the data to being leaked.

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