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Ballot for JLP found in PNP envelope in Westmoreland Eastern recount

SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Lead attorney representing the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP’s) Daniel Lawrence in the Westmoreland Eastern magisterial recount, O’Neil Brown has declined to comment on a development that a ballot intended for his client was found in an envelope belonging to the People’s National Party (PNP).

The discovery was made during the magisterial recount now under way in the Westmoreland Parish Court in Savanna-la-Mar.

At the end of the first day of counting yesterday, Lawrence picked up seven additional votes from rejected ballots cast in the September 3 General Election, while Luther Buchanan, the People’s National Party candidate, picked up three additional votes.

Thirty-two of the 117 boxes have so far been recounted, putting Buchanan at 1,042 votes, Lawrence at 1,032 votes, and independent candidate Haile Mika’el at five votes.

Brown said the JLP ballot that was given to the PNP was, perhaps, the highlight of the day.

“I will withhold any comments for now, but I just found it interesting,” he told the Observer.

Following the discovery, presiding Judge Steve Walters adjusted the numbers in favour of the JLP.

In another noteworthy instance, a ballot that was cast in favour of the JLP had to be placed under a light to properly identify the faint mark made by the elector. The ballot, which was originally considered as spoilt, was later added to the JLP candidate’s tally after the judge and lawyers representing the PNP inspected it.

Buchanan’s lawyers left the building yesterday before the Observer could get a comment.

Lawyers representing Lawrence filed an application for a magisterial recount on September 8, after an official count by the Electoral Office of Jamaica declared Buchanan the winner in Westmoreland Eastern by one vote, following the intervention of the returning officer.

Both men had obtained 4,834 votes while Mika’el had received 34 votes. A total of 107 ballots were rejected.

As a result of the tie, the returning officer for the constituency cast the deciding vote by blindly pulling one of two ballots with the names of both candidates from a box. The ballot with Buchanan’s name was drawn.

The magisterial recount continues today at 10:00 am.

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