Yesterday we reported on the decision of Justice Courtney Abel to allow three of the original five applicants in last week’s filing of the challenge to the decision of Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai.
Tamai recommended the rejection of 337 signatures from the original list of 2,002 presented to the Governor General last November, causing the effort to fail.
Lead applicant Orlando Habet and two voters from the division were given the green light, there are several aspects of the case that will prove crucial to its outcome at trial in July.
Attorney on the case, Lisa Shoman, told reporters that the Chief Elections Officer did not give specific reasons for each rejection, and she may now be forced to do so through disclosure of the rejected signatures.
“She did not. Informally, through other channels, we obtained a listing that we don’t know how officially or accurate that is, and I was careful to say so in my affidavit evidence, that we have seen such a thing but we have never seen an official detailed explanation for why each and every one of these people were disallowed. So that is the specific disclosure we have been looking for (although, if I don’t get it, I don’t think it will be fatal to the case because it will simply be assumed that she dealt with them as a group. One of the arguments that we make is that the Chief Elections Officer nor anybody acting on her behalf, ever went to these people and ask them why the signatures did not match…never went to these people and ask them, why did you sign twice, because the law talks about willfully signing. Now, I know when she had a press conference. On January 8th, she very fliply said that if the law does not disallow it, she can do what she likes; no such thing! She has to follow the strict letter”.
Attorney Shoman says that it will not be necessary to call in a handwriting expert to determine the validity of each signature as their argument is that she had no authority to refuse any of them.
The case will be heard from the 2nd to the 4th of July before Justice Abel. Anthony Sylvestre appears along with Senior Counsel Shoman while Deputy Solicitor General Nigel Hawke appeared for the respondents.