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MONTEGO BAY, St James — The magisterial recount for the East Central St James seat in the December 29 general election will begin today at the Cambridge courthouse in St James.

Attorneys Clayton Morgan, Abe Dabdoub and Raymond Clough, will represent the Peoples National Party's (PNP) Cedric Stewart, who lost the battle for the seat to the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Edmund Bartlett.

Attorneys George Soutar, Frank Phipps, George Thomas and his son, Martyn, will represent Bartlett.

Resident Magistrate Sandra Wong-Small will preside over the recount.

At the end of the final count for the closely contested seat, Bartlett polled 6,337 votes to Stewart's 6,172.

Independent candidate Roystan Richards got 24 votes.

But a dissatisfied Stewart filed for a magisterial recount days after the final tally was announced.

Morgan, in an interview with the Observer last Wednesday, argued that the election in the constituency was dogged by irregularities, and warned that if the court does not rule in favour of the PNP candidate at the end of the magisterial recount, then steps will be taken to have the poll declared null and void.

He emphasised that his team will "focus the searchlight" on polling division 50, which he said, contained all the ballots of election day workers in the constituency.

"In that box Stewart got 247 votes, Bartlett received 45; there were no spoilt ballots but there were 162 rejects," said Morgan, adding that rejected ballots for the other 88 boxes in the constituency totalled 71.

Bartlett, too, had expressed concern about aspects of the poll, particularly about the "unusually large numbers" of rejected ballots in polling division 50.

He claimed that the rejected ballots were votes intended for the JLP and expressed confidence that at the end of the recount he will remain the Member of Parliament for the constituency.

Bartlett, who was the minister of tourism during the last JLP administration, has been the elected Member of Parliament for East Central St James since 2002.

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