No major hiccups were reported during yesterday’s bye-election for the Hindustan/St Mary’s electoral district but the United National Congress was ordered to relocate some of its mock stations after they were deemed to close to the polling station.
During the first half of the day, a low voter turnout was observed at the various polling stations. The seat was left vacant after the then UNC councillor Michelle Benjamin was elected as Moruga/Tableland MP in the general elections last August.
The seat was contested by four candidates.
Benjamin who was on hand to support the UNC candidate Tylon Farrel.
Benjamin said the voting process was smooth, but they had some minor issues with officials of the Election and Boundaries Commission.
She said they had set up their mock stations throughout the electoral district on Sunday night. But, the EBC officials took issue with the location of four of them, and three had to be relocated yesterday morning.
“But the locations that are being used this morning and it is happening throughout the electoral district are locations that we have traditionally used over the years. I have been working in elections since I am 18 and is the same spots.”
Members of the media were also ordered by the police on several occasions to stay 100 yards away from the polling stations.
When contacted EBC’s corporate communications manager Bobbi Rogers said apart from electors waiting in queue to vote, the law does not permit congregation or assembling within 100 yards of the polling station.
“All other persons are required to adhere to the instructions of the Presiding Officer, who is the in-charge officer at any given polling station.”
Anyone who contravenes this section, she reminded, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $7,500 or imprisonment for three months.
Despite this the candidates were confident.
People’s National Movement candidate Martina Loubon-Legendre was positive she would return the seat to the ruling party.
“I think my chances are very well.” She noted that in the last local government election the PNM has lost by a mere few hundred seats.
Guardian Media also spoke with independent candidates Ariel Saunders and Peterson Morales in Tableland. Saunders said, “We mounted a very successful campaign and I think that today Trinidad and Tobago will see the results of the work we put in. Quite a lot of people, more than we expected are on board. We are very confident that we will win.”
Peterson Morales, a businessman, was not eligible to vote as he did not reside within the electoral district but he thanked Saunders for a clean campaign. He was confident of victory but vowed to work to the mare a “better place.”
The UNC’s Tyron Farrel believed he would reclaim the seat for the UNC.