Leon Chaku Symister, one of the legal advisors to the United Progressive Party (UPP), says that Supervisor of Elections Dame Lorna Simon has questions to answer before she proceeds on retirement, since – in the January 18 General Election – she acted like a law unto herself.
At a press conference held on Tuesday, January 31, Simon announced that she was relinquishing her position, having served for over 20 years.
In response, Symister says that most persons in the political community would welcome the news that Simon has decided to retire.
He says he has had several encounters with her and, in his opinion, she did not demonstrate the level of impartiality required for the position of supervisor of elections.
The attorney says that, coming out of the last General Election, there are issues that Simon needs to clear up before she leaves. This is to avoid a situation in which the new Supervisor is unable to appropriately answer some of the questions voters might have.
Symister says he was dissatisfied with Simon’s conduct prior to the elections with respect to the publication date of the Final Register for Elections.
According to him, the Supervisor did not take the advice of the Electoral Commission’s attorney regarding the number of days by which the Register should be published before the polls.
Symister also references Election Day discrepancies, including the 30 St. Phillip’s South ballots that were rejected because the official seal had not been placed on them.
Under Simon’s watch and leading up to the polls, Symister charges that other violations took place. For instance, he says, the UPP was told that it could not file any further claims and objections at a time when the period for the process had not closed.
Additionally, the attorney says, there were issues with the photo list, which, in several constituencies, contained more names than the Final Register of Electors. According to law, they must be identical, he notes.
Meanwhile, Simon has said she would love to see Ian Hughes – her assistant and the Electoral Commission’s human resource and training officer – appointed to the position of Supervisor of Elections. However, the Parliament reportedly has the final say about her replacement.
Simon began her tenure in the civil service in 1969.