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Low turn out for PNM polls

Monday, October 1, 2018
San Fernando Mayor Junior Regrello,left, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and Minister of Local Government Kazim Hoseim after casting their votse at CAL Skiffle Pan Yard in San Fernando during the PNM internal elections yesterday. Photo by:RISHI RAGOONATH

There was a slow, steady, but noticeably low turnout of voters for the PNM internal election yesterday. At most polling stations, only a few hundred voters showed up to cast their ballots.

Rain, as well as the fact that several key posts had already been filled due to no opposition, contributed to the low polling numbers according to head of the election supervisory committee Murchison Browne.

“In some areas, the weather is also inhibiting some people from getting to the polling stations and also some of the strong positions are not being contested,” said Browne.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was unopposed for the political leadership, while Camille Robinson-Regis (Lady Vice Chairman), Howard Chin Lee (Treasurer), Clayton Blackman (Education Officer) and Jennifer Baptiste-Primus (Labour Relations Officer) faced no opposition for their positions.

While from most accounts the voting process was described as smooth, there were reports of canvassing at polling stations. Photos of MPs outside polling stations were shared on social media and some candidates, mainly those outside of Team Red Rowley, expressed their concern.

“There have been a few concerns, reports coming from a few polling stations with mock polling stations that may be too close to the regular polling stations,” said Chinua Alleyne moments after casting his vote at Belmont Secondary.

Alleyne, an independent candidate, was up against Team Red’s Foster Cummings for the post of General Secretary.

Deputy Mayor of Port-of-Spain Hillan Morean, who vied for the Youth Officer post, also voted at Belmont Secondary. He said he had heard similar complaints.

“I have gotten some phone calls from supporters across the country. People are setting up tents and it seems to be that they are encouraging persons to vote for a specific team,” he said.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he had not heard any complaints about canvassing.

“I don’t know, I didn’t hear that but I would expect that kind of complain. You can’t canvas in the polling station because we try to pattern this election on par with a national election and there is a code of conduct and if there are people who are trying to influence voters we will ask them to withdraw,” said Rowley after casting his vote at St Anthony’s College, West Moorings.

Fellow Team Red member, Finance Minister Colm Imbert, who was up against Mustapha Abdul Hamid for the post of chairman, said he had not heard the complaints.

“We’re not canvassing, as you can see,” said Imbert at Maraval RC School where he voted.

The party’s election supervisory committee acknowledged there were reports of activity outside polling stations.

Browne, when asked about the complaints, said: “Some of them would have been asked to remove themselves. That was rather unfortunate.”

Commenting on reports out of San Fernando that some voters were unable to cast their ballots, he explained that confusion stemmed from unofficial lists at mock polling stations carrying names different to those on official poll lists.

“What is happening basically is that list is entirely different to the list that the presiding officer have within the station. So when they go to these mock stations and telling them their name is not on list I don’t think that is quite correct at all,” he said.


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