Nikoli Edwards leader of the Progressive Party (PP) and candidate for San Fernando West speaks with a resident along the Train Line in Marabella on Sunday. 

Sascha Wilson

With the elections mere days away, one political party is concerned that the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has put its lone candidate at a disadvantage by misrepresenting its symbol on the ballot paper.

Progressive Party leader Nikoli Edwards who is contesting the San Fernando West seat has written to the EBC expressing his concern over this development.

In response, however, the EBC stated that the onus is also on the candidate to ensure that its political symbol is correct and he failed to object to the symbol when he filed by nomination papers.

In a press release, the party stated, “The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has failed to properly represent the Progressive Party’s (Progressives) symbol on the ballot in the 2020 General Election. The symbol approved by the Progressives and the EBC back in 2017 was not what was placed on the ballot and to date, the EBC has offered no explanation for this.”

The party felt the omission of the name of the party next to the symbol could confuse electors.

“Throughout the campaign, the party has been using its complete symbol and advised its supporters to look for that on the ballot paper. This latest error by the EBC has the potential to confuse electors and thus the party has written to the EBC seeking clarity and a way forward.”

In an interview with Guardian Media, Edwards said he has received all kinds of notices and letters from the EBC, but no response to their concerns over the misrepresentation of their symbol on the ballot paper. “They have not even acknowledged it,” he said.

Apart from his name, he said electors will be expecting to see the name of the party next to the symbol just like the other parties. While he did not expect the EBC to reprint thousands of ballots for San Fernando West, Edwards said it is only fair that they put out an official notice acknowledging that they erred. Also, on election day, the polling clerk advises the electors about the error so that they would not be confused. However, in response to the Edwards press release, the EBC stated that Edwards failed to officially inform the EBC that there was an anomaly in the representation of his political party’s symbol when he filed his Nomination Papers.

“On both July 10 and July 17, for the Pre-examination of nomination papers and Nomination Day at the Office of the Returning Officer, Mr. Edwards was shown the symbol for his political party that would be reproduced on the ballot paper for the electoral district he is contesting at the August 10, 2020 polls. Mr. Edwards raised no objection.”

The EBC advised that whilst it is the responsibility of the Government Printer to use the gazetted political symbols on the ballot papers, it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that their political symbol is correct in the process. The EBC also expressed confidence that on election day there will be no confusion as Edward’s party is contesting one seat and the symbol therefore only appears on the ballot papers for the electoral district of San Fernando West. Nineteen political parties have entered the election race with a total of 150 candidates vying for seats in 41 constituencies in T&T.