Chief Election Officer of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Fern Narcis-Scope says regardless of what Monday’s weather brings, the voting hours of 6 am to 6 pm will not be changed.
In an interview with the Sunday Guardian, Narcis-Scope said the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) is guided by the ruling of Justice Mira Dean-Armorer in August 2016 on a lawsuit filed by United National Congress (UNC) contesting the validity of results in five constituencies in the 2015 General Election.
At that time, Justice Dean-Amorer said the EBC acted illegally when it implemented a one-hour extension of voting hours from 6 pm to 7 pm on September 7, 2015. When the extension was announced in 2015, the EBC said it was necessary due to inclement weather and flooding in some areas.
Dean-Amorer said, “Torrential rains and flooding on 7th September 2015, may have impelled the EBC to issue the directive they did. Nonetheless, the uncontrollable weather conditions did not confer on the EBC the power to direct that the law be broken. The EBC, itself a creature of statute, ought at all times to abide by the clear dictates of the law and ought not to purport to dispense with those dictates even if faced with an apparently insurmountable problem. Accordingly, it is my view and I hold that the extension of the poll on the 7th September 2015 was illegal and election officers who failed to close the poll at 6 p.m. acted in breach of Section 27(1) of the Election Rules.”
Speaking yesterday, Narcis-Scope said since the August 10 election date was announced, the EBC has maintained that there will be no extension of the voting hours.
Three Tropical Waves were expected to affect Trinidad and Tobago from Thursday (August 6) until Tuesday (August 11.)
On Saturday, there was street and flash flooding in several areas- including South, North and East Trinidad.
At 4 pm on Saturday, the Trinidad and Tobago Met Office issued a Riverine Flood Alert, Yellow Level, for people living in lower-lying areas near the Caroni River.
The alert stated the Caroni River basin was near-threshold and with more rainfall expected overnight on Saturday and a high tide expected at 7.15 pm on Saturday, there was a moderate risk to public safety, livelihoods and property in those areas.
At the time of the interview yesterday, Narcis-Scope said she was in the middle of a meeting about polling stations.
Asked if there was any concern of any polling station falling within an area that is flood-prone on Monday, Narcis-Scope said, “When we started this journey and were establishing polling stations, we took all of those things into consideration. At this time, everything is set for Monday, August 10.”