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Voting protocols for St Vincent

Voting protocols for St Vincent
Flashback: Electoral officials on the outside checking names and directing people into the polling station in 2015. (Picture by Nigel Browne.)

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KINGSTOWN, St Vincent – The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) says voters casting ballots in the November 5 general election should wear masks or face coverings while at the polling stations.

NEMO’s Health Services Subcommittee is also strongly recommending the use of facial coverings by all persons attending rallies and meetings as the island continues to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It is also urging that all campaign rallies and meetings should be held outdoors, with sufficient space to avoid crowding.

NEMO said that while St Vincent and the Grenadines had recorded 73 COVID-19 cases as of last Friday, nine of them active, there is currently no evidence of local or community spread of the viral illness in the country.

“This advisory recognises the increased risk of the introduction and spread of SARS-CoV-2 in St Vincent and the Grenadines due to the arrival of travellers from countries with rising cases of COVID-19,” NEMO said.

NEMO said it was also urging all polling station workers and officials to wear face coverings/masks at all times and will regularly sanitise their hands or change their gloves. The advisory further said that voters should maintain at least three feet of spacing while waiting in line to vote.

Voters will choose between the ruling Unity labour Party (ULP) and the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) for control of the 15 seat Parliament.

The ULP led by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is seeking an unprecedented fifth consecutive term in office, while the NDP is entering the election under the leadership of Dr Godwin Friday.

In its bulletin, NEMO said that registered voters who are in COVID-19-related quarantine or isolation will be allowed to vote detailing the protocols to be followed.

It said that all eligible voters/electors under a quarantine order will be issued a temporary waiver of quarantine for a specified period on November 5, to allow voting at the polling station allotted to them in accordance with the provisions made by, or under the Representation of the People Act.

NEMO said that voters granted a temporary waiver of quarantine must wear a facemask for the entire duration of the period out of their quarantine site and follow all instructions in terms of spacing and sanitisation.

“All eligible voters/electors granted a temporary waiver of quarantine must travel to the allotted polling station and from the allotted polling station in a vehicle that allows sufficient spacing between the suitably masked elector/voter and the suitably masked driver.”

It said that for voters in isolation, they too will be issued a similar waivers so as to allow them to cast their ballots.

Meanwhile, the advisory said that the Health Services Subcommittee will submit to the Electoral Office a list of the names of all Commonwealth travellers 18 years and older, arriving here from October 22 to November 4, and subsequently quarantined.

The Electoral Office will issue a list of the eligible voters who would, in turn, be provided with a temporary waiver of quarantine/isolation.

NEMO said that the Supervisor of Elections and the Attorney General are in discussions in relation to the specific time period to be assigned for voting on November 5 by eligible electors in quarantine or isolation.

It said also a meeting, chaired by the Christian Council, will be held during the week of October, 26-30 with the leaders of all political parties participating in the general elections, to discuss and agree on the Health Protocol for the conduct of the polls.  (CMC)