Election regulators are recommending the enactment of new legislation to make provisions for voting in special circumstances. Chief Electoral Officer Angela Taylor said the need for such legislation was one of the main lessons from Wednesday’s general elections, in which the eligible voters among the more than 5,000 Barbadians in isolation with COVID-19, were disenfranchised due to directives prohibiting infected persons in quarantine and isolation from leaving their places to vote.
“What I would say is that what we can learn from this is that we need to look at other methods of voting because of the pandemic situation,” Angela Taylor told Barbados TODAY.
“We need to perhaps consider and make provision in law for other methods of voting that can be deployed in special circumstances.”
Two days before the general elections, Chairman of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Leslie Haynes, Q.C. stressed that the agency was “bound by the law” and COVID-19-positive persons in isolation could not vote since the COVID-19 directive under the Emergency Management Act prohibits those persons from leaving isolation for any reason.
The exclusion of these persons was the basis of legal action taken by Philip Nathanial Catlyn of the Barbados Sovereign Party. He unsuccessfully filed an injunction to stop the general election on the grounds that COVID-19 patients were being denied their constitutional right to vote.
A night before the elections, High Court Judge Justice Cicely Chase ruled that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the injunction.
Meantime, in her assessment of the conduct of Wednesday’s poll, Taylor reported that the elections generally went well.
“The sanitisation and the COVID-19 protocols were well done. That was actually better than some of the regular voting part of the processing. There were a few situations of people not finding their names on the register, notwithstanding that we started to advertise very early for persons to check the register,” the Supervisor of Elections stated.
‘Provisions for special voting needed’ Barbados Today