PROVIDENCIALES,Turks and Caicos, CMC- The possibility of a by-election in the Cheshire Hall-Richmond Hills district is looming following a ruling, which declared the election in the constituency null and void.
The ruling handed down on Thursday by Justice Margaret Ramsey Hale in favour of Oral Selver the losing Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate in the November general election.
Other candidates who contested the seat were Amanda Missick of the Progressive National Party (PNP and Dr Edward Smith for the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP).
On Election Day, 844 votes were cast - 58 votes for Smith, 364 for Selver and 394 for Missick, who was declared the winner by a margin of 30 votes.
A petition was subsequently brought before the court by Selver who argued that Smith was not qualified to be nominated as a candidate based on the fact that he was a US citizen and the 58 votes cast for the PPP candidate could have affected the outcome of the election, given the slim margin of victory by Missick.
In his evidence Smith contended that he was eligible for election and that he had renounced his US citizenship by default by taking a subsequent oath of allegiance to the Queen.
In response, counsel for Missick, submitted that there is no qualification for nomination and the purpose of the constitutional provision is to prevent people who are disqualified from being elected, not to stop them from running
However, the Jude ruled that “there is a clear obligation on the candidate under section 50 of the Constitution to state correctly that he or she is not disqualified from being elected to the House of Assembly.
“Dr Smith was not qualified for election and was therefore not qualified for nomination,” she ruled.
The judge declared that if the voters in Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hills District were presented with a larger field of candidates by reason of the inclusion of Smith on the ballot and had he not been on the ballot, the voters might have cast their votes differently.
“Given that the margin of votes affected by the irregularity exceeds the margin for the successful candidate, the court must inevitably conclude that his participation in the election may have affected the outcome” the Judge concluded.