As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent de­fends lo­ca­tion of polling sta­tions

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION -

Dear edi­tor,

I wish to clear up some in­ac­cu­ra­cies and mis­in­for­ma­tion that ap­peared in a letter head­lined “A bal­lot box lament for Port de Grave” by Moses Barrett, Spa­niard’s Bay, which ap­peared in the Tues­day, May 31 edi­tion of The Com­pass.

The letter al­leged that the mem­bers of the ex­ec­u­tive of the Port de Grave district Lib­eral as­so­ci­a­tion had un­due in­flu­ence on de­ter­min­ing the lo­ca­tion of polling sta­tions for the nom­i­na­tion con­test that was held May 18 to pick the Lib­eral can­di­date for the district. This was not the case. The only per­son who had any in­put in the process was I, the pres­i­dent of the as­so­ci­a­tion.

The fol­low­ing are the events lead­ing up to the vote on May 18.

I was tele­phoned by the Lib­eral party of­fice on Fri­day, May 6, and told that the party was go­ing to call the nom­i­na­tion on Mon­day, May 9, and that about one or two places to hold a vote will be needed. The first thing done was to check the con­sti­tu­tion for the cri­te­ria for vot­ing and the place­ment of vot­ing sta­tions.

The con­sti­tu­tion states: “ vot­ing shall be by se­cret bal­lot at polling sta­tions strate­gi­cally lo­cated within the district.” That was vague, so the next con­sid­er­a­tions were: What was the nor­mal prac­tice in the past? And how to en­sure fair­ness to both the can­di­dates, and their sup- porters, while work­ing within the time con­straints dic­tated by the con­sti­tu­tion.

The nom­i­na­tion was called by the party on May 9, and it closed on May 13 at 5 pm. Un­til the nom­i­na­tion had closed there was no of­fi­cial word on how many peo­ple were seek­ing the nom­i­na­tion, or if there would even be a need for a vote.

A call to the party of­fice at 5:30 pm in­formed me that two can­di­dates were seek­ing the nom­i­na­tion — a res­i­dent of the com­mu­nity of Port de Grave, and a res­i­dent of the com­mu­nity of Shearstown. The vote was to take place five days later on May 18, and polling sta­tions needed to be ar­ranged for the vote.

This did not al­low much time to in­form the can­di­dates and to meet the dead­line for ad­ver­tise­ments in the lo­cal pa­per. De­ci­sions needed to be made quickly on where to lo­cate polling sta­tions that will be fair to both can­di­dates and their sup­port­ers.

The de­ci­sion was as fol­lows: a polling sta­tion would be lo­cated in each of the home com­mu­ni­ties of the can­di­dates, Port de Grave and Shearstown. Next, a polling sta­tion would be lo­cated at St. An­drews Club in Up­per Is­land Cove, be­cause it was at the end of the district and it was lo­cated just a cou­ple hun­dred me­ters from the boundary with Bishop’s Cove, and hence serv- ing both com­mu­ni­ties.

The next polling sta­tion would be the town hall in Clarke’s Beach, be­cause it was lo­cated near the road ser­vic­ing North River and hence could serve that area as well as Clarke’s Beach and Makin­sons.

The next lo­ca­tion would be some­where in the Bay Roberts, Co­ley’s Point area to serve those com­mu­ni­ties and the part of the town of Spa­niard’s Bay that was in the district. A cou­ple of places within the com­mu­nity of Bay Roberts were con­sid­ered, but these places were un­avail­able for rent on polling day.

The Loyal Orange Lodge in Co­ley’s Point was cho­sen be­cause of fa­mil­iar­ity with that build­ing, knowl­edge of the lay­out, and ready ac­cess to it and that it had ev­ery­thing that was needed to con­duct the vote.

This made five polling sta­tions, more than at any time in the past. Next, the can­di­dates needed to be no­ti­fied so that they could pass this in­for­ma­tion along to their sup­port­ers, and hope­fully, meet the print dead­line to ad­ver­tise this in­for­ma­tion in this pa­per, this al­ready be­ing Fri­day and the pa­per due out on Mon­day, two days be­fore the vote was to take place.

The next day was Satur­day, May 14, the day of the re­tire­ment din­ner for Roland But­ler, a great op­por­tu­nity for the an­nounce­ment of the polling sta­tion lo­ca­tions and for the two can­di­dates to in­form the guests them­selves.

So, when Mr. Barrett was in­formed at the din­ner by some mem­bers of the ex­ec­u­tive that they were not a part of the de­ci­sion­mak­ing process in the lo­ca­tion of the polling sta­tions, they were be­ing to­tally hon­est and straight­for­ward.

Fur­ther, to the al­lu­sion to the lack of lo­ca­tion of a polling sta­tion in a par­tic­u­lar com­mu­nity was due to a mem­ber of the ex­ec­u­tive re­sid­ing in that com­mu­nity or not, is in­ac­cu­rate. For ex­am­ple, the com­mu­nity of Makin­sons had no polling sta­tion, even though a res­i­dent of Makin­sons serves on the ex­ec­u­tive. There are two res­i­dents of Bay Roberts, in­clud­ing my­self, who serve on the ex­ec­u­tive, but there was no polling sta­tion in Bay Roberts.

As for the com­mu­ni­ties of South River and Til­ton, which were men­tioned in the letter, they are not in the district and hence, no polling sta­tions.

So in con­clu­sion, there was no un­due in­flu­ence by the ex­ec­u­tive of the district as­so­ci­a­tion in the de­ci­sion of polling sta­tion lo­ca­tions, as al­luded to by Mr. Barrett. Any crit­i­cism of the way it was han­dled should be di­rected at me, and not at the en­tire ex­ec­u­tive of the Port de Grave Lib­eral as­so­ci­a­tion.

The sta­tion lo­ca­tions were cho­sen as in­di­cated, and I stand by those de­ci­sions.

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