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EBC shocker: False claims not reported to cops

By Earl Manmohan Newsday

Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Howard Cayenne admitted yesterday that the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has never taken action against persons who provided it with false information.

He told the Commissioners that it was never the practice of the EBC to do so.
His admission came as a surprise to the five-member Commission of Inquiry sitting at the Caribbean Court of Justice, Richmond Street, Port of Spain.

Cayenne who has been with the EBC for the past 25 years, five of which he has served as CEO, said it was not a practice he liked.

He said the EBC would process valid applications for transfers within constituencies as well as from one to the other, but invalid applications in which there were incorrect information or false information were stored.

This led Inquiry Chairman Justice Lennox Deyalsingh to ask: "You mean despite the provisions in the Act (Representation of the People Act) which provide for prosecution of persons giving false information, the EBC has not prosecuted anyone?"
Cayenne: "No Sir."
Deyalsingh: "Why?"
Cayenne: "It is not a practice of the department, Sir."

Asked by Deyalsingh whether the applications for transfer that were rejected because they contained wrong information and therefore false information were not referred to the Police, Cayenne replied: "No."

Section 67 (2) of the Act stipulates that any person who knowingly makes a false statement for the purpose of being registered, or of remaining registered as an elector, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $7,500, and to imprisonment for six months.

The Section was one of many amended by the UNC administration in September 2000 to increase previous penalties by ten times.

The amendments were also done in the midst of allegations that illegal transfers of large blocks of voters were taking place for the 2000 General Election.

Cayenne disclosed that the EBC Commissioners had taken upon themselves outside of the law to monitor any unusual movement of large numbers of people seeking transfers from constituencies into the five marginal ones - Barataria/San Juan, St Joseph, Tunapuna, San Fernando West and Ortoire/Mayaro.

He said the Commissioners did not find anything unusual in the five marginal constituencies.

However, the EBC was able to pick up 252 transfers which were not valid and these were passed on to the Police, who were at the time investigating the illegal transfers.

Cayenne said these people had done notification of change of addresses but field investigations revealed that they were not living at the new addresses.

Cayenne was led in his evidence by Russell Martineau SC, representing the EBC.
The inquiry continues at 10 am on Monday.

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