Chief Elections Officer Fern Narcis-Scope says the Elections and Boundaries Commission did its best to clear up lines at Gulf View Community Centre after electors complained they waited for four hours to vote.
Speaking on CNC3 last night, Narcis-Scope said she was aware of the issue with one polling division but said it was caused by a high voter turnout and COVID-19 protocols.
She explained that the EBC had warned that there would be delays because of social distancing but denied that people waited for four hours to vote.
As the polls closed off at 6 pm yesterday, more than 40 people from the Gulf View and Bel Air area were turned away from voting. Only those who were near the polling division were allowed to vote.
Attorney Jayanti Lutchmiedial and sub-agent for UNC candidate Sean Sobers said they were disappointed that the EBC did nothing to speed up the voting processes at the polling division, which housed three polling stations.
“About 40 people came and left after waiting two hours. Many of them were old people. Since 7 am, we lodged a complaint about 3881 and 3880. These stations are different from other polling stations because for some reason they were moving very slow. We were entering the polling station every half an hour because, for an hour and a half, the line had not moved,” Lutchmedial said.
She said by midday, an attorney had written to Narcis-Scope but there was no response.
Contrary to what Narcis-Scope said, Guardian Media interviewed several residents who said their voting time took between three hours to four hours.
Ravi Dinanath said, “We have been here for four hours. We just finished vote. Inside there were all kinds of excuses about why the line was slow.
“When we got there we saw nothing inside to show why there was a holdup with the lines. I believe this was a deliberate attempt to stop people from voting. It was purposely done to frustrate people.”
Businessman Kama Maharaj said it was heartbreaking to see old people waiting for so long.
He said, “Standing here for so long and no facilities. People going in one door. It is incredible. This is the absolute worse, 3,881 is 100 votes less than every other polling station inside there,” Maharaj said.
Sobers, who arrived at the centre during the course of the morning, said the three polling stations being housed at that location represented the UNC’s stronghold supporters.
“The EBC needed to investigate the slow pace. People still waiting three hours and lines are getting increasingly long. We do not understand what is going on,” Sobers said.
He said the UNC will be taking action after the polls close to determine why the voting process was so long. Sobers noted that there was no evidence to indicate that it was deliberate but said, “it was definitely mismanagement.”