Incumbent political leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Tobago Council Kelvin Charles and TT Ambassador to Costa Rica Tracy Davidson-Celestine will go head-to-head on Sunday in a runoff to decide who will be the party's leader for the next four years. The scenario is a repeat of the last internal election in 2016 when Charles defeated Davidson-Celestine.
Many are wondering, however, if the lengthy delay for results on Sunday will be repeated in the runoff. Polls closed at 6pm on Sunday but with the new one man, one vote system introduced, the party seemed unprepared for the avalanche of ballots to be counted as 17 positions were contested and over 5,000 PNM members voted.
Counting was suspended in the wee hours of Monday and resumed at 2pm, which according to Pascall was a decision taken to safeguard the welfare of the staff counting.
Emerging from the council’s office shortly after 7:30pm on Monday to speak with members of the media outside the party’s Scarborough headquarters, the first results to be conveyed by Pascall was that of political leader based on the ballots from all 13 polling stations.
Chairman of the elections supervisory committee, Alvin Pascall sought to allay fears of a repeat of the fiasco and promised a winner will be announced "on time" when the runoff is held on Sunday.
“It was the first time we have done it to this magnitude. It is easy to do now; all you have to do is to ensure that the people who would do the counting, that they are sufficient and a little more supervision of them, and we should be able to get out of them a more speedier completion of the counting of ballots.
“That would be important and helpful to us because it would only be two candidates on one ballot, so that should make it easier,” he said.
Asked specifically if a winner in the runoff will be declared on Sunday night, Pascall said the elections committee would do its best.
“The answer is yes, you would have the results on time…We would do our best.”
Further questioned on if they underestimated the demands of the new system, he said more infrastructure could have been put in place.
“I would say yes and no. I would tell you why no, we had enough polling stations, but there could have been a few more polling stations. We could have had a few more polling booths within the polling stations, so those are ways we will do (better) to make the (next) election a little bit more easier by possibly making a few more polling stations and more polling booths.”
Concerning irregularities on the voters’ list with names appearing on the list more than once, Pascall said the list is not in the hands of the elections committee, as it is the purview of the Tobago Council.
“We hope steps would be taken to deal with any shortcoming in the list that we have found, but that is something for the Tobago Council, they would take steps to appoint a person or persons to rectify the list in anyway. But, we use that list, we use it to the best that we could and it is the list that exists as the membership list for the PNM at the Council,” he said.