ALMOST four hours after polls across the island closed, PNM members had no idea who had won the party's internal elections.
The mood at the People’s National Movement (PNM) Tobago Council headquarters was sombre Sunday night as members waited to hear who would be their political leader for the next four years.
On Sunday, the Tobago Council held its internal party elections with all 17 positions up for grabs. With the one man, one vote system adopted for all positions for the first time it seemed to create a logistical challenge as PNMites and members of the media were left scratching their heads at the long wait for ballots to be counted. The polls opened at 8am and closed at 6pm.
Kelvin Charles was challenged for leadership of the party by former THA presiding officer Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus, Deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack and TT’s Ambassador to Costa Rica Tracy Davidson-Celestine.
Speaking with members of the media earlier during the day, Davidson-Celestine voiced concerns about the absence of the electoral ink used to stain one’s finger indicating that one has voted.
She told Newsday, she hoped the polling agents and clerks deployed at the various stations would record the votes accurately “to bring about a level of transparency in the process.”
“We have to use faith in this particular instance because the ink would have been the signal that one would have cast their vote. The ink is absent in this particular arrangement and we just have to trust the process until the time that some irregularity arises.”
Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus said she was counting on the integrity of people as she awaited the results.
“The last time, I think, we had ink. I really don’t know what to make of it. I think at this point, we really need to put some things in the hands of the Lord. At this point, I would like to count on the integrity of people, it is a challenge. Yes, I could see where it can have serious issues, but I honestly don’t know why they did not apply the ink,” she said as she promised to look further into it.”
Addressing the complaints, incumbent political leader Kelvin Charles said the ink was not customary at internal elections.
"We don’t vote internally with ink. We didn’t do it in 2016, we didn’t even do it in 2018 when we were voting for the political leader,” he said.
In the interim, Alvin Pascall, chairman of the elections supervisory committee told Newsday there was a steady stream of voters. Pascall said by 3pm, Calder Hall Community Centre had registered the biggest turnout with close to 500 voters.