Won’t Affecting Voting or Counting Processes

On Monday, it was announced that a curfew will be in place on the night of November eleventh when counting is expected to be getting underway. Here is what will happen. Polling stations in all thirty-one constituencies across the country will be officially closed at six o’clock. Voters who are already in line at that time will be allowed to cast their ballots, despite a pending curfew which come into effect two hours later. The restriction of movement on the night of the general elections has raised concerns in various corners, including the media. Among the issues being raised by stalwarts is whether the curfew itself will be used by the ruling party to steal the elections. For us in the media, our concern was whether our reporters and correspondents will be allowed untrammeled access to the polling stations during curfew hours since our coverage of the elections will go into the wee hours of November twelfth. For those answers, we turned to Commissioner of Police Chester Williams who began by debunking the idea that the elections will be hijacked.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“I can categorically state that it is not going to cause any political party to hijack the election. As you can see that is some of the comments from some quarters that the curfew is going to enable the government to steal the election. Let me say that elections are conducted by public officers and, for example, at the polling stations we have the presiding officers, we have the polling clerks and then each political party has their scrutineers. And so, how the election process normally works is that when the voter enters the polling station, the voter presents his or her ID to the election clerk, the election clerk then shouts out the name of the voter and then the scrutineers, along with the election clerk are going to verify that the voter is registered in that particular division that he or she intends to vote and once the scrutineers and the clerks come across the name of that voter on that voting list then that voter is allowed to vote. Now when all the voting process is over, then returning officer is the one who announces the winning candidate. So when we speak of a curfew during the election night from eight p.m. to five a.m., I say it is no way going to hinder the election process because: one, the curfew is not going to affect those public officers who are a part of the election process, i.e. the police officers, the counting clerks, the polling clerks, the presiding officer, the returning officer, the scrutineers and whoever the political parties choose to be at the counting station. Neither is it going to affect the candidates who are contesting the election, in no way, shape or form.”