By Malisa Playter-Harry
A smooth process of voting was recorded yesterday for the joint services in Berbice as they turned out at the respective polling stations to cast their votes for the Local Government Elections 2018. Representatives of the three main parties, A Partnership for National Unity, the Alliance for Change and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, all expressed that there were no hiccups during the voting process which commenced at 06:00 hrs and concluded at 18:00 hrs.
Visits to the some of the polling locations in Berbice saw a poor turnout from ranks of the disciplined services. They were expected to cast their votes at the New Amsterdam Town Council, the New Amsterdam Prison, Whim Police Station Compound, Springlands Police Station Compound and the Fort Wellington Police Station Compound.
It was however noted by some of the ranks in New Amsterdam, that their names were not on the list in that particular voting location, and this prevented them from casting their votes. They were however confident that they would be given the opportunity to exercise their right on November 12th.
The media caught up with the Commander of ‘B’ Division Paul Langevine as he exited the polling station at the N/A Town Council, he stated that the process was “easy and smooth”. He however walked away while reporters were attempting to ask further questions on the voting for his ranks for the day.
Meanwhile, the country’s crime chief, Deputy Commissioner Lyndon Alves told this publication via telephone that for the ranks whose names were not on the joint services list, provisions are in place to allow them to vote on November 12. He said, “all the policemen who were unable to cast their ballots today in the country that will be tabulated, they will be permitted to go home to cast their ballots on the 12th”.
Additionally, Kaieteur News spoke to representatives from the three main parties contesting the Local Government Elections throughout the country, and they expressed that they were pleased with the smooth flow of voting. They were however disappointed with the turnout.
A volunteer from the Alliance for Change, Derek Basdeo was visiting the New Amsterdam Prison polling station when the media spoke with him. He stated that, “Whim is good, there were polling agents there, Springlands was good as well, but there was a poor turnout to me. It was a very smooth operation throughout the day and I believe that we will get a substantial number of votes, even though we are running along, but I am positive”.
Kirk Fraser, Party head for APNU in Berbice, stated that they were pleased with the turnout and confident that “we should touch at 80-90 percent by the time poll closes”. He also added, when questioned on if he was satisfied on the voter education provided by GECOM, that, “we would have been doing our own voter education exercise in our constituency, because we would have had printed material that we would have used and distributed to all constituencies and all the areas that we are contesting. So we don’t find voter education as a problem, but I think GECOM can up their advertising and ensure that more persons are aware about local government elections”.
Zamal Hussain, the party head in Berbice for the People’s Progressive Party/Civic expressed similar views to Fraser as it relates to GECOM and their voter education. He stressed that GECOM “lapsed” in that area, “it is evident that if you go to Number Two Village, you will see even the signboard of the Ordnance/Fortlands NDC has not been rectified as yet. Instead of eight constituencies, we have seven, and the board hasn’t been changed as yet, so this is the level of PR that we are seeing from GECOM and I think it is very poor. I think we need to step it up between now and November the twelfth”.
Hussain also highlighted that the voting process for the disciplined services yesterday “went well” and they would have noticed 39% voting in terms of the number of persons listed on the voters’ list and the number that turned out to vote. In his opinion, the turnout was “very poor” since they were expecting somewhere between 80-85% turnout from the ranks. He said, “There are a lot of constraints, because come November 12th, I predict that we will also see a low turnout in the voting population unless the government decides to give that day as a public holiday to accommodate persons, those who are in Georgetown… and the logistics. We have to look at the logistics and ensure that we have persons to come down and pay more attention to this local democracy. If we want to see persons partaking in these local government elections coming, today is an example to show that the percentage turnout is very low”.
Some 100 ranks were listed to vote at the Fort Wellington Polling location with only 40 casting their votes. At the New Amsterdam Town Council, out of 277 that were listed, 77 voted, while 38 voted out of 108 listed at the New Amsterdam Prison. Whim had 113 ranks listed to vote but only 33 turned out and cast their ballots, while 25 out of 50 voted at Springlands Police Station. Those were the figures recorded up to 16:00 hrs yesterday.
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