The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) came under criticism from United National Congress (UNC) candidate for Princes Town Barry Padarath after he cast his vote in Couva on Monday.
Speaking with members of the media outside the polling station at Couva Anglican Primary School, Padarath said, “The process has been very long here at the Couva Anglican School. It took me as you can see over an hour to vote. My advice to electors is to be patient, but to also be very vigilant during this process.”
He said, “I think the EBC could do a lot better this morning as it’s election day. We knew this election was constitutionally due this year, and this morning in light of Covid-19, and the situation we find ourselves in, in Trinidad and Tobago…voting in such a situation and having to adhere to the regulations and so on….. I thought the EBC could have done a lot better with respect to especially the elderly – and with respect to disabled persons in terms of providing adequate conditions.”
Padarath did not think the EBC was up to scratch on election day and highlighted a lack of provision should weather conditions change during the day.
He said, “Thank God we have good weather right now. What happens if it rains in a few hours….where you have hundreds of persons lineup…..there is no provision of tents, etc for elderly people and the disabled. Again, I understand the constraints of holding an election during a pandemic, however, they had five weeks, plus, we knew an election was due constitutionally this year. Covid had reached our shores months ago and they could have done a lot better with respect to putting provisions in place to deal with the persons who are most vulnerable participating in today’s election.”
As voters came and exited the polling station, some said the process took longer than expected and felt the two-hour time-off period given to electors to go and vote should be extended by another hour.
Padarath, however, did not think so.
He said, “No. I think the voting process should be held within the confines of the law.”
Padarath said despite the regulations in place for Covid-19, the EBC had sufficient time to prepare, and as such should have had all necessary provisions in place.
He said, “I am almost certain many persons did not prepare themselves to be voting within a pandemic situation. Again, it could be an oversight, but these are things that should be addressed as we go forward. Elections should be held in the confines of the law, the present law as it stands.”
The validity of Padarath as a candidate for the Princes Town seat came into question, just days before the general election, however, Padarath dispelled the rumors, saying it was a fabrication by the People’s National Movement (PNM).
The Princes Town candidate issued a warning to the PNM should they try to subvert the electoral process.
He said, “I will not be bogged down by the machinations. I am on the ballot today in Princes Town and I will not be distracted by the machinations of the PNM and their agents. The EBC has accepted my nominations. Persons have been voting for me since special electors day.”
“I want to send a warning to the PNM….this is not Guyana, this is Trinidad and Tobago. Any attempt to suppress or subvert the electoral process in Trinidad and Tobago is an attack on the democracy of our people and our republic,” Padarath said.