All set for voting

marciadottin, marciadottin@nationnews.com

Added 21 February 2013

ballotbox

BARBADIANS go to the polls today to vote for a new government in what is this island’s 14th general election since adult suffrage and the 10th since Independence. It is again a straight fight between the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) led by Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart, a 61-year-old attorney at law, and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) headed by Owen Arthur, a 63-year-old economist who served as Prime Minister for 14 years up to 2008. Eight candidates drawn from a Coalition of Unified Parties as well as Independents are also contesting the poll. Almost 248 000 people – an increase of about 12 000 since the 2008 election – are eligible to mark their X on the ballot paper, between 6 a.m. when the polls open and 6 p.m. when they close.  Approximately 1 700 people are officiating in today’s poll for which there are 541 polling stations. Counting of the votes should begin at 8 p.m. and by midnight there should be some indication of the outcome of the contest for 30 seats in the House of Assembly. A check with chief electoral officer/supervisor of elections Angela Taylor yesterday revealed there would be a presiding officer, two poll clerks and eight counting assistants at each station as well as two traffic clerks assigned to each of the 30 constituencies. This time around, there will be no information centres, as Taylor said they were too inconvenient. She said an information centre could be in one part of a parish and a voter in another part so they would have to travel too far just to access  information. Instead, she said, there would be information posters. “In lieu of information centres, there will be posters on each polling station with a list of numbers. If anyone has any queries relative to voting, they can contact the information hub at the Electoral and Boundaries Commission,” she said. Twelve women are contesting today’s poll, all representing the two major parties. There are 22 new candidates in the race, 16 coming from the parties. For Stuart, it is the first time he is leading the DLP in a general election having taken over the party’s leadership since the death of former Prime Minister David Thompson in 2010. This is Arthur’s fifth time leading his party in a general election. Today’s poll concludes just over three weeks of vigorous campaigning.   Strict measures are now in force to facilitate a fair poll. Billboards, posters and other electioneering paraphernalia should have been removed overnight and the sellling of alcoholic beverages is banned. The Royal Barbados Police Force said its members would be deployed in “full force” today. (ES/CA)

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