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The Elections Petitions Matter in Antigua- An Analysis

Violations of elections rulesA peculiar irony is how some things finish, but don’t end. The Elections Petitions matter will linger until adequately analyzed, responsibly distilled, and emotionally reconciled.

Although a lot has been said, some hard things remain untouched. And while fools venture where angels fear to tread, perhaps more will think me angel than fool.

Authentic assessment of this matter requires honest, professional disclosure at the outset. I have worked professionally for the ALP, as well as for a few state agencies under UPP rule in A&B. Accordingly, my initial and preferred mindset was to avoid commenting on this matter. However, since critical regional development is on the line, passionate commitment overrides.

Thoroughly treating with this matter while retaining reader interest dictates that thoughts be arranged and released in three installments:

•    Part I: High Courts; Low Judgments: A Critical Review (Fri Jan 14)
•    Part II: Missing the Bus: but Redeeming the Time (Tues Jan 18)
•    Part III: This Matter and the CCJ: Impact & Options (Fri Jan 21)

Part I: High Courts; Low Judgments: A Critical Review

The biting sarcasm of the OECS Appeals Court’s decision is that despite claims otherwise, the quality of its ruling strikingly resembles Judge Judy’s court, except that her inane findings appropriately suit a daytime TV audience, whereas the matter at hand remains imminently consequential; even with implications for regional jurisprudence, the CCJ!


According to my reasoning, both high court and appeals court got it wrong; both lacked the requisite Solomonic wisdom that this adjudication beckoned. Still, Judge Blenman’s single-headed high court appears wiser than the three-headed EC appeals court. Charged with a need to be collectively insightful, the appeal court proved severely afflicted with group think jaundice.

It’s no secret Judge Blenman found violations of elections rules significantly egregious and tantamount to disenfranchisement, and declared affected seats void - effectively ordering a rerun in those constituencies.

Then along came the appeal court, which effectively said: whereas we agree violations were significantly egregious, according to our probability forecasts, the outcomes would be the same. Further, voiding the results punishes the declared winners when there is no led evidence to indicate they held responsibility for the violations. In other words, the winners had no control over the violations that occurred, and likely suffered from them just as much as the other side.

To undiscerning minds, this thinking may appear reasonable; and is the very thing that makes it akin to a Judge Judy outcome. Truth is, while appearing strong in what it affirms, it’s very weak for all that it concomitantly denies. Conclusions are insufficiently rigorous and woefully inadequate for the sophisticated affairs it purports to redress.

Upon closer examination, this ruling is marked by cacophony, if not schizophrenia. One is left wondering if the decision itself wasn’t made for other purposes, and then feasible rationalizations sought and proffered as justifying cover. It is very hard to discern intellectual integrity in the appeals court's ruling.  
Two separate but related conditions would have been necessary for the appeals court decision to be creditable. Neither condition existed, making the ruling mind-boggling.

1. The number of uncast votes would have had to be less than the margin of victory.

1. (In each instance, the number of uncast votes was two to three times the margin of victory). Or;

2. The pattern established by those who did vote would have had to be an accurate or at least fair representation of the vast majority of those who did not get to vote.

1. It’s impossible to tell if this was so; but more than likely this would definitely not be the case. Here’s why:


The last time I checked, the course offering in reputable institutions was still called Probability AND Statistical Analysis. One cannot arrive at probability predictions without first engaging in rigorous statistical analysis.

•    Predicting probability outcomes based on patterns established by the significantly late openings was poor analysis, because it failed to realize those patterns would have been highly skewed due to outlier clusters (of voters) that would have pulled the patterns away from the mean. 

◦    Persons who returned to vote or stayed to vote regardless of length of delay were more than likely individuals all of whom were unencumbered by:

▪    The allotted two-hour time allowance for voting

▪    Conveyance restrictions

▪    Human exigencies (infirmity, hunger, indiscipline etc)

▪    In sum, such groupings would more than likely be government workers or well-off individuals, all of whom would likely disproportionately favor any incumbent government.

◦    Please note, while the unemployed, elderly, and youth would normally be groups with time luxury, issues of hunger, infirmity, indiscipline etc can be expected to cancel their effective presence in cases of very extensive time delays.

Unless the voting apparatus in A& B is sufficiently sophisticated and allows tracking of nuanced voter demographics, the courts could not have had sufficient statistical data at its disposal to make a sufficiently foolproof probability prediction. Instead, it more than likely made a decision using highly skewed samples to predict how entire remaining pools would have voted had they the opportunity to do so. This is flawed analysis.

In the prevailing circumstances, as long as the number of uncast votes remained higher than the margin of victory, all probability permutations should not only have been kept on the table, but also given equal weight. And that includes the probable oppositely skewed outcome that the vast majority of those disenfranchised would have voted for the opposition given the chance to vote.


But perhaps the greatest flaw of the appeals court decision is its myopic belief that probability can protect democracy. In the court’s reckoning, it seems probability trumps principle. While probability is a prediction of likelihood, it is a poor substitute for certainty - and should especially not have be utilized when samples for generalization were significantly compromised by flaws that likely pulled them away from the means. It seems the appeals court was flirting with the leisure of unsubstantiated likelihood rather than deciding based on principles of democracy.

I’m afraid the appeals court took too lightly the transcendental purpose of elections: ie determining the sovereign will of the people. If the purpose of democratic elections is to enfranchise the people to express their desired choice of government, then any process that significantly compromises and retards that expression of choice must be deemed inadequate, and rightly voided. In this regard, Judge Blenman got it right. None can be declared winner if the process of enfranchisement is significantly flawed; and it doesn’t matter whether or not such winner had anything to do with creating the flaw.

Raymond S. Edwards, Ph.D. Organizational Psychologist & Minister of Religion- is an International Development Consultant and Executive Leadership Specialist. © 01/13/11. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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12 Comments In This Article   

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Re good job bob

#12 oversee » 2011-01-15 07:45

How typical of you violent, greedy, overbearing,selfish and egregious types from USA; don't deny it, that's where you hail from. You got stung good and proper looking for easy returns on your 'investments' in Stanford's empire. All was fine when the dough kept rolling in but are now crying and slobbering now things have turned very sour. Ever hear of the Wealth Warning: The value of shares can go up as well as down? Apparently not, you spiteful nincompoop. Why do they hate us, cried George Dubya? Well if you don't know by now then you never will. FSRC "ain't got no money" so go take a jump in the deepest part of the Gulf of Mexico and get some oil; it's all there for free and guess what: the price oil is nearing the $100 a barrel mark. Sounds good, eh? Yippee !!
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oversee

@ Dig it and Mr. Edwards

#11 my way of helping » 2011-01-15 02:55

I do not think you can introduce new evidence on appeal, I think the judgment can only be base on facts and laws which was presented in the lower court. I stand corrected if this jurisdiction has a different process.

I must award this writer for presenting such legal, logical and reasonable presentation of this matter. I must agree, that the appeal court reasoning is unconstitutional. I know this is a weird question to the writer of this article, but did you intend it to be a legal analysis or a statistical analysis or both? I ask because it presents both exceptionally well.

I always mentioned, a lawyer should not only incorporate law but social sciences etcetera in his practice. I think a well prepared lawyer should know how the judges tend to decide and how they think, so they can present their case in the same fashion. I think a lawyer should be able to present a rounded argument and you, a statistician, should have been employed, along with a social scientist who have studied the judges reasoning and thinking, a long with a constitutional legal specialist (you seem to be that too).
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my way of helping

@Tenman

#10 Dig It » 2011-01-15 02:21

Tenman, I agree with you, the the lawyers of ALP failed to make their statistical case in the Appeals Court!
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Dig It

@Tenman

#9 TC » 2011-01-15 02:12

Thanks for the correction.......Cou rt of Appeals.. I am referring to my discussions (everybody else).
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TC

@TC

#8 tenman » 2011-01-15 01:31

TC, a point of correction, the CCJ never ruled on this issue, there are some of us, including myself, who would wish it could be appealed to that level. Let me state, I don't agree with the appeals court but I will respect their decision, its a pity MP Spencer could not do the same with the tribunal that he asked to be appointed.

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tenman

@TC

#7 tenman » 2011-01-15 01:23

TC what or who do you mean by everybody else?
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tenman

Blenman got it right

#6 Dig It » 2011-01-15 01:11

A very prolific and unbiased article with analyses for the average person to comprehend! I am not a lawyer or scholar, but the writer gives me a new perspective on the elections petition cases in High Court and Court of Appeals! I agree with the writer that “Judge Blenman got it right.” Many voters were indeed disenfranchised by the late opening of the polls! If the good judge ordered a “rerun in those constituencies,” I believe the most and moral thing to do was to let the people decide their fate right there and then! In that, I have always have reservation with the Court of Appeals ruling, but since I am a firm believer in the court of law, I didn’t challenge the decision! However, I find it to be a double standard that Judge Blenman’s ruling was nonsensical to lots of people, but not the “probability forecasts” reasoning given by the judges! Like the writer said "None can be declared winner if the process of enfranchisement is significantly flawed; and it doesn’t matter whether or not such winner had anything to do with creating the flaw."
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Dig It

well said

#5 tenman » 2011-01-15 00:38

The statistical analysis used by the appeals judges was highly flawed. I recall making these exact same points months ago ie the need to examine all variable we cannot simply assume everyone is the same. The statistical analysis used by the appeals judges was highly flawed. The problem though may lie with the the lawyers for the ALP , they needed to make a contrary argument using statistics to what the UPP did, and I have not seen anything indicating that they did. Part of that would have been to include data from a reputation statistician noting why the UPP contention was flawed.

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tenman

Writing Advice

#4 Professor » 2011-01-15 00:11

Thank you for taking the time to write, but I must admonish you that in your opening you stated that "The Elections Petitions matter will linger until adequately analyzed, responsibly distilled, and emotionally reconciled" ... it sounds elegant. but makes absolutely no sense, because the matter will linger inspite of superlative analysis, distillation and reconcilliation.

Wh en your article opens with such a nonstarter, the reader becomes predisposed to not taking your article seriously ... Just a constructive criticism
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Professor

#3 TC » 2011-01-14 23:27

Please, I see nothing new here. You are practically saying what everybody else has said. Until I see a new angle in this case, the CCJ has ruled, end of story.
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TC

#2 Democratic Antiguan » 2011-01-14 21:42

Mr. Edwards, this is one of the best articles on the subject that I have read. I wish your practical style of thinking could envelop the Nation. Maybe then we could move forward instead of languishing in the Courts.
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Democratic Antiguan

#1 good job bob » 2011-01-14 21:38

Seriously, how does it matter if one or the other Antiguan wins or loses an election? Either way the world is the loser.

So far only the Mossad has succeeded in defeating Antigua's attempts to be a "world power" by putting a bullet through Gerald Bull's head. Now the Venezuelan, Colombian and Mexican SIB's investors will have their chance to collect from Antigua's Knight's country. I only hope the FSRC has deep pockets like the SIBC (who compensated the Madoff investors), otherwise things will get (more) ugly for the so-called country of Antigua.
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good job bob

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Dr. Raymond S Edwards


 Dr. Raymond S. Edwards is a Columbia University trained organizational psychologist & international development expert; as well as a New York state certified staff development and training specialist. His consulting services include Cabinet retreats, Executive Team workshops and Organizational Change seminars. He is also an ordained minister, qualified educator, prolific writer and motivational speaker.

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