Voting in today’s General Election will continue until the close of the poll at 6 pm and when the last person in the line on the compound of the polling station has voted.
This was made clear by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) recently in a series of guidelines to ensure a smooth process today.
EBC chief elections officer Fern Narcis-Scope gave information on today’s process in a recent interview with state-owned television station, TTT. Narcis-Scope said the EBC knew this would have been an election year and had started working towards this since last December. The EBC has also been partnering with the Health Ministry on the COVID aspect.
With social distancing requirements under COVID restrictions, the EBC has catered to ensuring polling stations compounds are large enough to contain expected long lines which may be winding around compounds. Some stations have been shifted to ensure compounds are large enough.
Polling Day Tips:
• To save time, voters have been asked to open their poll card before proceeding to a polling station since some traditional station locations may have been shifted—within the same area—if they were too small and in order to use locations large enough to cater for expected long lines on a compound due to social distancing requirements.
• For example, a POS Bishop’s school was shifted to Boy Scouts’ location, St Anns. Poll cards contain the information on where a voter must go. In the unique instance of any shifts, signs have been posted at locations to state where a station was shifted to.
• Masked EBC officers will be on duty at stations from 6 am to 6 pm.
• Some schools and multi-purpose centres are being used as waiting areas for voters.
• While voters have been urged to wear masks according to COVID protocols, mask-wearing isn’t mandatory and voters who don’t come with masks will still have their right to vote.
• If someone comes without a mask, the EBC is providing masks for such people. But if they don’t wish to wear it, they can still vote.
• Voters will be asked to pull their mask down a bit for EBC officers to verify and confirm their visage is the same as on the ID card they present.
• Masks which bear political/similar insignia or markings supporting a candidate should be avoided.
• Employ social distancing protocols of leaving six feet of space between yourself and the other person.
• Voters are urged to sanitise but will also be given sanitiser at polling stations and before they dip their finger in the electoral ink.
• The ink receptacle will be periodically sanitized like the ballot box.
• The public has by law two hours off to vote plus their lunch hour if people use that also.
• People can wear gloves (to protect against the virus) until inspection of their fingers to ensure they haven’t voted before. They’ll also have to sign their poll card and it may take a little longer to put on/remove gloves to do these aspects.
• Traditional protocols remain the same for disabled voters
• July 15 was the end of the electoral registration period by which to inform EBC of change of name/address. Anyone who turned 18 by July 16, that would have been the last date for such persons to qualify to vote.
• Polling stations’ 6 pm closure time won’t be extended.
• If there is still a line at a polling station at 6 pm closing, established practice will be followed: the Presiding Officer in charge of a station will establish who’s the last person in line and all people in the line up to that person, will be allowed to vote.
• Under the established practice, anyone coming after that person won’t qualify to vote.
• A policeman may be placed at the end of the line after the last voting person, to ensure practice is adhered to.