ANIL JUTERAM, UNC candidate for Vega de la Oropouche, on Monday, said some businessmen could potentially vote twice in local government elections.
He sid this was based on their residence and on their occupancy of business premises.
In an interview with LoopTT, he recalled being told by an Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) official that a businessman can obtain a document from the EBC to be able to vote in the electoral district where his business is based, as well as voting in the district where he lives.
Juteram said he lives in Sangre Grande North East and has a business in Sangre Grande North West.
“That is really, really news to me,” he said.
He vowed to seek clarification on the officer's claims.
Bobbi Rogers, EBC communications manager, confirmed the claim.
She told Newsday Section 13(1)(e) of the Representation of the People Act says you can qualify as an elector in local government elections if you occupy a business or property within a city or borough and reside within a ten-mile radius of that city or borough and you must be paying tax on that property.
“They have to apply to the Chief Election Officer to be treated as such, then they can vote twice. It isn't just carte blanche."
Rogers said an applicant’s business and home must be ten miles apart. He or she must have proof of where they live and where their business is.
“You have to apply for it," she said. "You cannot just assume you are qualified.”
The act says a person who, for at least 12 months before an election and within ten miles of a city or borough, has occupied a qualifying property rented for at least $60 per year or with that annual rateable value can vote.
The PNM and UNC are keenly vying to win the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation, which in the 2016 polls was tied four-four, with the chairman Terry Rondon of the PNM insisting his incumbency gave him overall control.
What the law says
Section 13 of the Representation of the People Act lists qualifications for voting in municipal corporation elections.
Subsection (e) says someone qualifies to vote who:
On the qualifying date and for a period of at least 12 months immediately preceding that date (in this section referred to as the qualifying period) has or will have resided within ten miles of the City or Borough, as the case may be, the ten miles to be measured along the nearest road or way by land or water, and during that period—
(i) has or will have been in occupation of any rateable hereditaments in the City or Borough assessed in the current house rate book or a portion of such rateable hereditaments (in this section referred to as qualifying property) for which he shall have really and bona fide paid, during the qualifying period, rent at a rate not less than $60 a year;
or (ii) has or will have been in occupation as owner of qualifying property of an annual rateable value of not less than $60.