DLP Candidates Query Low Voter Turnout in Landslide Defeat
Voters came out early and in their numbers to cast ballots at polling stations in the St Philip constituencies. From 6 a.m. when the polls opened, lines could be seen snaking into the locations at Princess Margaret Secondary School, Reynolds Weekes, Hilda Skeene, Bayleys and St Martin’s Mangrove primary schools. Two Democratic Labour Party (DLP) candidates in St Philip reported some frustrations and complaints from voters.
Michael Lashley, QC who is seeking to regain the St Philip North seat he lost in the 2018 general election, revealed that some persons who are expected to be on the voters’ list were not when they visited polling stations.
“Their names were not on the list, so we will be checking on that and we will make the necessary complaints to the Electoral and Boundaries Commission. I think it is wrong. Some of my other colleagues, too, experienced the same problems. It is wrong, those things should be ironed out before election,” Lashley said after dropping in his ballot at the Bayleys Primary School.
He also raised concerns about those who were not able to exercise their right to vote as a result of having COVID-19.
“I think that is really a stain on the electoral landscape of Barbados. The fact that you have persons in isolation, the fact that you call an election in a pandemic without readying the Electoral Boundaries Commission and the other agencies . . . so that they can handle any situation like this. I think we really missed the boat.
“Those people in isolation should have been given the right to vote and should be voting today. First time in an election in Barbados that we have people who could vote and they are restricted from voting,” said Lashley who is challenging Barbados Labour Party (BLP) incumbent Dr Sonia Browne.
First-time DLP political hopeful Neil Marshall who is contesting the St Philip South constituency said based on his observations throughout the morning, voters were frustrated over the wait time.
“What has turned out to be much enthusiasm, with long lines and so on, turned to be quite a nightmarish experience for persons. The COVID-19 protocols and various directives, particularly in this voting, have turned out to be very frustrating for a lot of persons. What I have seen throughout the various polling stations in St Philip is actually persons . . . objecting to the long wait and indeed I have seen persons just simply leave the polling station in utter frustration.”
Marshall, who is challenging the BLP’s Indar Weir, said while people appreciated that it is a pandemic environment the situation he witnessed “certainly does not augur well for our democracy”.
“I expect that the turnout will be even lower than we had initially predicted . . . because it has now become a very tedious process to exercise your franchise and what that will augur for me as a candidate, that is still uncertain. What it would mean for Barbados as a country, I do not think that it could augur very well in the long term.
“We want to have healthy turnouts in our elections and I think that this election being called at this particular time is really to somewhat disenfranchise a sizeable portion of those persons eligible to vote. Whether I win or I don’t, I still hold that view . . . . This is simply not good enough for us as a democracy, ” Marshall added.
The complaints of the DLP candidates echoes the failed legal action taken to halt the snap elections.
Candidate charges some people not on voters’ list Barbados Today