Due date of petitions in doubt

Monday July 02, 2018 Written by Published in Politics
With petitions waiting in the wings and questions raised about the due date of petitions, residents who waited in line to vote on election day are in for another delay before the fi nal outcome of the general election is known. 18061528 With petitions waiting in the wings and questions raised about the due date of petitions, residents who waited in line to vote on election day are in for another delay before the fi nal outcome of the general election is known. 18061528

The Electoral Office is seeking clarification from the Crown Law Office on the due date of petitions challenging the validity of the 2018 general election.

As stipulated by law, petitions should be filed within seven days after the declaration of the result. However, it does not specify if they are seven working or normal days.

The final result was announced by chief electoral officer Taggy Tangimetua on Thursday last week.

If the normal days are considered, then the final day of petition should be this coming Thursday. If the law indicates seven actual working days, then the petitions should be due on Tuesday of next week, as Friday is Ariki Day, a public holiday.

“We are seeking an opinion from Crown Law. We sent them an email on Friday seeking clarification on whether it’s seven clear days or seven working days,” Tangimetua said.

Both the Cook Islands Party which has 10 seats, and the Democratic Party which has 11 seats, have indicated they will file petitions for some of the seats they lost in the June 14 elections.

A petition challenging the validity of an election can be lodged by a candidate or five electors of the constituency they are registered in.

According to a report from the Electoral Office, petitions must be lodged with the Registrar of the High Court, and must allege the specific grounds on which the complaint is founded. It should set out the specific outcome being requested by the petitioner.

The petition must also be accompanied by a filing fee of $1000 and security for costs of not less than $5000.

Nine electoral petitions were filed with the High Court in the 2014 election, five more than in the 2010 elections.

The petitions in 2014 mainly concerned voter qualification, bribery, treating and influencing.

“Of the nine petitions seven were from constituencies outside of Rarotonga, two of these were from the northern group islands, presenting some logistical difficulties and huge costs of taking the courts on these islands,” said the report.

“Most challenging was to hear the petitions within three months as stated in Article 29 of the Constitution.”

Before the 2014 hearings, the court directed the chief electoral officer to investigate each of the qualification allegations and file a report to the court.

In the case of the chief electoral officer having a revised view regarding the earlier information, that was also required be reported to the court.

The chief electoral officer was also required to liaise with lawyers concerned with Crown Law overseeing the process, in the view that 80-90 per cent of the allegations contained in the petitions would be sorted, the report said.

Both private and public entities were ordered by the court to provide information regarding the petitions filed in 2014.

Meanwhile, parliament will not meet until all election petitions filed in the High Court have been finally determined or have been withdrawn or dismissed for want of prosecution.

Leave a comment