Primary Election Fiasco

January 1st, 2009
by George S. Crimmin

[private] v7-1-Speaking OutI have been involved in several elections in the Bay Islands, and even though none of them were particularly clean, the 2008 primary election took the grand prize for being the most notoriously unfair, dirty, unethical and corrupt. The good book declares that “the love of money is the root of all evil”, well, that was never more evident than in this particular election debauchery.

On the surface it appeared as though the better prepared, more articulate, educated, most adept candidates at putting forth their plans for moving us forward, and willing to put the general interest of the public first, all apparently lost. I said apparently, because after careful scrutiny it became evident that foul play was afoot and wide spread cheating had taken place. Liberal Party Deputy Candidate Dorn Ebanks went to bed on November 30 as the winner, but woke up on December 1 as the loser.

After several attempts at clarifying the situation locally it became evident that the only way to get a fair and impartial hearing was to take the case directly to the national election tribunal in Tegucigalpa, an appropriate forum for such action when a recount is warranted.

There were allegations of large scale voter intimidation in some precincts by those in positions of power, unscrupulous incumbents using the public till to bribe voters, in some instances openly, even using threats to force public employees to work on their behalf. These actions which also included the alleged illegal manipulation of ballot boxes, would be considered felonies and subject the perpetrators to prosecution and incarceration in most civilized societies, are becoming the norm here in the Bay Islands. There were precincts with 150 voters listed but 250 people voted – There were final reports that were unsigned, evidently no one wanted to assume responsibility for the fraud. There were even “actas” filled out and signed in pencil. Lead pencil which can be erased and changed at will. I had never witnessed anything like this before. There were 863 annulled votes in Guanaja alone. While the challenge that we mounted, focused on the congressional race.

I cannot help but consider the results of all the voting for alcalde of Roatán suspect. While the congressional results were appropriately reversed, in most cases those that voted for candidate- Dorn Ebanks, also voted for David Bodden who could very well be the legitimate candidate for mayor of Roatan.

The Liberal Party leaders in Tegucigalpa need to have a viable liberal party here in the Bay Islands to effectively deal with this crisis. If that result was allowed to stand it would have sent a message that cheating, stealing, bullying, fraud, greed and lying were all acceptable in the Bay Islands.

The wisdom of going to Tegucigalpa for help was questioned by many, and we were told that our situation was hopeless and we would fail. Well, failure is not the worse thing in the world. The very worst is not to try and my one regret is not taking this action after similar results in past elections. Wisdom, in turn, is knowing what to do next; skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is actually doing it. I was very impressed with Mr. David Bodden who is a rising star in the Liberal Party.

He has both courage and integrity and deserved better. Cervantes once wrote: “He who loses wealth loses much, he who loses a friend loses more, but he who loses courage, loses all.” [/private]

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