By Theresa Goodwin
Barbudans will go to the polls today to vote in a local government election to fill five seats that have become vacant on the local Council.
Residents on the sister isle, will be given the opportunity to vote in favour of 11 candidates, five representing the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP), five from the Barbuda Peoples Movement (BPM) and one independent, when the polls open at 7 am at the Holy Trinity Primary School.
Public Relations Officer for the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC), Elisa Graham, told our newsroom Sunday morning that a team on the ground were doing the last bit of sanitisation at the primary school to ensure that everything is in place.
She also said that ahead of today’s poll, all electoral staff received a refresher course on the election process and special emphasis was also placed on the Covid-19 virus and the related health and safety protocols to ensure the safety of all involved in the process.
Due to the health and safety protocols, there will be four polling stations at the Holy Trinity Primary instead of the usual three.
“In addition to election officers, we will be having individuals who are specifically tasked with handling cleaning and sanitising the premises throughout the entire day. We have to ensure that people come wearing their masks and they are sanitising properly. We have to make sure that there are additional materials in terms of pencils and so on,” Graham said.
The ABLP contenders, who will be hoping to secure a seat on the council are, Tyrone Beazer, Wesley Beazer, Hesketh Daniel, Mackeisha Desuza and Kelcina George.
Nico Antonio, Melanie Beazer, Wayde Burton, Mackenzie Frank and Nadia George are representing the BPM, while Ordick Samuel is the only independent candidate.
Graham said officials attached to ABEC met on Saturday with the candidates and their agents who will be permitted to be in the area, along with electoral officials, when the counting of the ballots is taking place.
She said that limitations will be put in place to ensure that social distancing requirements are met.
The body will also be working closely with the police to ensure that order is maintained.
The PRO said it is also anticipated that there will not be much loitering after the polls are closed at 6 pm given the fact that the 8 pm curfew is still in effect.
There are currently 1,210 registered voters on the sister island of Barbuda.
Residents there are being encouraged to walk with their Voters Identification card to take part in the process; provisions will also be made for people without a valid card to apply for a temporary one on the day of the elections.
There are 11 seats on the Barbuda Council, nine of which are elected. This year only five seats will be contested.
In 2019, four seats were contested. The candidates with the highest number of voters will be declared winner by the Returning Officer.