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Penny: Pure frustration for voters

By COREY CONNELLY Monday, May 19 2014

The People’s National Movement (PNM) was “not ready” to implement the new one man one vote system in time for yesterday’s party internal elections, contends leadership candidate Pennelope Beckles-Robinson.

Speaking to reporters yesterday after casting her ballot at the Arima Central Secondary School, Robert Street, Arima, Beckles-Robinson briefly took aim at the novel system, saying that although it was a “herculean task” to account for some 81,000 names on a voters’ list, there were still too many hiccups in relation to the operational aspects of the system.

She said there were many people who could not vote because their names did not appear on the voters’ list for one reason or another.

“The party was not ready for it.....it was pure frustration because there were people with membership cards who could not vote,” Beckles-Robinson said.

Beckles-Robinson avoided speculation as to whether such developments were deliberate.

“I would like to err on the side of caution in saying that such acts were not deliberate,” she said.

However, she said incidents of that nature had far-reaching implications for both the party and country, particularly as it relates to next year’s general election.

“Remember, it is a process that the country is looking at,” she said, adding that the PNM must project itself as an alternative government not only to its support base but also in wooing potential members.

Beckles-Robinson has said during the campaign trail that the PNM will not win the next general election strictly on the basis of its loyal supporters but will have to concentrate on wooing the undecided voters.

“That would be another exercise - taking a whole new approach to attract that mindset,” she added.

Beckles-Robinson, who was accompanied by her husband, Noel, arrived to cast her ballot at about 11.15 am and emerged from the Arima Central polling station an hour and a half later.

She said although the process was lengthy, she did not encounter any personal challenges.

“The process was smooth. Once you found your name, it just took a couple of minutes,” she said.

Beckles-Robinson said, however, that she had received complaints about the non-appearance of names on the voters’ list.

“There was an issue with the supplemental voters’ list which the presiding officers here do not seem to have...clearly, it may have been a question of miscommunication (between the elections supervisory committee and the constituencies). I do not want to place anything in the context of being deliberate,” she said.

She said the tardiness of the elections supervisory committee in distributing the supplemental list, late last week, also did not allow constituencies enough time to verify the names, addresses and contact numbers of their respective voters.

Beckles-Robinson said: “There were people who may be from Arouca South but whose names have shown up in Lopinot/Bon Air. Sometimes, in constituencies, people have moved and when you get the list late, there are no contact numbers because the people are elsewhere. It is very hard.”

The former Arima MP also raised concerns about what she considered to be the poor voter- turnout at the polling station as of midday yesterday. “When I voted, I was number 237,” she said, adding it was too early at that time to make an overall assessment.

She again lamented that the elections may have been poorly organised in terms of polling stations.

“Arima is a large constituency and when you have communities like Paria and La Fillette, it becomes very costly when people have to take two to three hours to come to vote. The fact that there is only one polling station is very ridiculous. It is outrageous and the people have to be really committed to come out to vote,” Beckles-Robinson added.

Win or lose in the internal elections, Beckles-Robinson told reporters that she is prepared to work with her challenger, Opposition Leader and Diego Martin West MP Dr Keith Rowley in advancing the PNM’s chances at winning next year’s election.

“Nobody will make me leave the party. That is where I am committed,” she said.

Beckles-Robinson reiterated she had a “pretty good” record of service in the PNM, which included serving in the Senate on two occasions, contesting five elections and six positions. Asked about the campaign, she said: “I think I have done my best. I have had a good run.”

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