The Attorney General and Supervisor of Elections should either shape up or ship out

By Hon. Dr. Royal S. Robinson, MBE

I have been inundated by many calls as to why I have seemingly been quiet during the saga of the incorrect addition of the votes garnered by my son, Hon. Jamell R. Robinson Snr. in The Bight Constituency.

My response was always: “I am just waiting to see what happens”. The response to that was mostly, this is ‘kinda unusual for you’. Indeed, it might have been. In the beginning, I had decided, for the most part, to allow Hon. Robinson the space to cut his own teeth on the matter, but keep a close eye on things.

There was clearly a mistake in adding the votes from the tally sheets from the three polling stations for The Bight on election night, Friday, 19th February, 2021.

Coincidentally, I was the counting agent for the third room, and so was Hon. O’Neil Delancy. The numbers were agreed to by all parties in that room and the final sheet was taken to the person in charge of that Constituency.

It was somewhat past midnight on election night, when the tally was finished. The tally sheets from each room were given to the Returning Officer and it was just a matter of adding the votes from the three rooms for each of the candidates that appeared on the ballot. The votes garnered by each candidate from each room was not in dispute.

When Hon. Robinson analyzed the overall data, he found that in The Bight, he underperformed his colleagues by some one hundred votes, whereas in all of the other nine constituencies, except in South Caicos, he was running second behind Hon. C. Washington Misick.

So, he called me to find out what happened in The Bight. I went to my tally sheet and showed him that in my section, Hon. Misick got 120 votes and he got 119 votes. To that, he said that something had to be wrong and went about looking into the matter himself.

Hon. Robinson then flagged the matter with the Supervisor of Elections, Mr. L. Dudley Lewis, who confirmed to him – that he was in possession of the corrected version of the count for The Bight, with respect to him.

Hon. Robinson asked Mr. Lewis what he was going to do to correct what was clearly an error of addition. Mr. Lewis said that he would speak to Hon. Rhondalee Knowles, Attorney General (AG), to get legal advice on the way to proceed.

With regard to this matter, Hon. Robinson wrote Mr. Lewis, telephoned him and texted him to chase up the Hon. AG for a response. To which Mr. Lewis consistently responded that he was still waiting on the AG, even after a number of reminders to her.

It was not until after 7pm, on the day that a petition to the Court for redress, if necessary, that Mr. Lewis wrote to Hon. Robinson stating that he had to file a petition if he wanted the ballot boxes to be opened to see what had happened. Mr. Lewis knew full well that the window of opportunity for that was now closed. However, prior to Mr. Lewis writing Hon. Robinson that nonsense, on a visit to Mr. Lewis’ office by Hon. Robinson, the Supervisor of Elections showed Hon. Robinson a document with the corrected number count for him for The Bight Constituency.

It is therefore clear that persons knew in ample time that a mistake was made and made no attempt to correct the record. Was it a dereliction of duty on the part of Mr. Lewis in his capacity as Supervisor of Elections, as well as Hon. Knowles, Attorney General, who very well knew the time sensitivity of an election petition?

In retrospect, the advice from Mr. Lewis should have come well before the bewitching hour and would have allowed Hon. Robinson the option of filing the petition if he so chose to do so. The Hon. AG cannot feign ignorance of the matter as she was copied in on ALL of the correspondence to Mr. Lewis.

The rationale that they are trying to use is that he won and the PNP won, so what is the big deal? According to US Vice President Joe Biden: “it is a BIG F…ING DEAL”!Just look at what happened in the 2016 Elections, Hon. Misick beat out Mr. Robbie Been Jnr. by only 21 votes for the fifth spot. Therefore, 82 votes is indeed a very a big f…ing deal!

Had it been a close election, the “loss” of those 82 votes could have meant that Hon. Robinson did not make it through the cut. But of equal measure, those 82 persons wanted to cast their votes for Hon. Robinson and that should be reflected in the final count.

Additionally, we cannot be seen as a “Banana Republic”, where the vote count is always suspect. I say give a man what is due him!
The matter has now been sent to the Governor who is responsible for the organs of good governance, of which the Elections Office is one. Depending on his response, we will take it to the next level.

Do note, I am not afraid in the least bit. Ask former Governor Ric Todd. When he did me wrong without cause, I engaged Misick and Stanbrook here in Providenciales and an internationally renowned UK firm Mischon de Reya to act on my behalf and took on the FCO in the process. Therefore, the Supervisor of Elections is way down the totem pole in that respect.

The nonsense at the Elections Office must stop and Mr. Lewis, it’s Supervisor, should go. If the AG Knowles is found not to have acted in good faith, then she too should go too. This entire matter is a travesty of justice, Human Rights, fair play and integrity in office. That this charade, dereliction of duties and not being accountable is taking place in this beautiful place that I call home, is contemptible.

* Royal Robinson is a former Deputy Premier and Minister of Health of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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