Delays, but election day incident-free in St Elizabeth


Delays, but election day incident-free in St Elizabeth

South/Central Bureau

Friday, September 04, 2020

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Frustrating delays for voters in the southern half marred an otherwise incident-free election in St Elizabeth, yesterday.

Encouragingly, with the COVID-19 pandemic providing a menacing backdrop, almost everyone wore masks in the vicinity of polling stations in areas visited by the Jamaica Observer. However, discipline was less evident in relation to social/physical distancing.

A tour by the Observer team through the battleground seat of St Elizabeth South Eastern and the traditional swing seat St Elizabeth South Western showed long lines, with people — waiting in some cases for more than two hours — venting their frustration.

“It look like dem cyaan read,” said one annoyed woman at Bull Savannah Primary School, St Elizabeth South Eastern, in reference to polling station officials.

At Big Woods Primary School in St Elizabeth South Western, one man who said he had arrived 20 minutes earlier but hadn't moved, and had come to find people already waiting for hours, suggested the Electoral Office of Jamaica may have been “taken off guard”.

Said he: “It's not that the voter turnout particularly heavy, is just that the line not moving.”

While expressing satisfaction with voter support in the early afternoon, incumbent for St Elizabeth South Western, the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Floyd Green — who was up against Ewan Stephenson of the People's National Party (PNP) — described the long lines and slow voting as a worry.

“We just have to be encouraging people to keep the faith and exercise patience...,” he said.

Earlier Dr Dwaine Spencer of the PNP, who challenged incumbent Frank Witter of the JLP in St Elizabeth South Eastern, expressed satisfaction with the turnout of Comrades in the PNP's stronghold of Myersville as well as Junction and Malvern when the Observer caught up with him.

“Things going very well, but it is early days yet,” Spencer told the Observer outside Austin Primary School in Myersville.

Even in Southfield (traditionally the JLP's strongest division in St Elizabeth South Eastern) Comrades were coming out to vote in numbers, Spencer claimed.

In the northern half of St Elizabeth, heavy early afternoon rain apparently had little effect, with most voters turning out early.

In St Elizabeth North Eastern, the JLP's Delroy Slowley faced the PNP's Basil Waite, while in St Elizabeth North Western the JLP's JC Hutchinson was challenged by the PNP's Ryan Keating.

Police commander in St Elizabeth, Deputy Superintendent Narda Simms, reported an incident-free day, from a law and order point of view.

“Everything is good; no incident at all,” said Simms.

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