Slow but smooth was the refrain coming from voters as they exited some of the larger polling stations in the St Michael Central constituency.
From as early as 5:30 a.m. today, half an hour before the polling stations officially opened, people were already assembled outside of the Combermere Secondary school gates waiting to exercise their franchise.
From the 6 a.m. start of voting, there was a steady flow of people, which tapered off into a trickle at around 9:30 a.m. The lines consisted mainly of people hoping to vote before heading to work. There were also a number of elderly and wheelchair-bound people waiting in line to complete the process.
However, with the COVID-19 protocols in effect, many lamented that the process was longer than usual. Voters told Nation News that the average time span for voting was about ten to 15 minutes, but there were some who reported that they spent about 30 minutes before marking their X.
“It was as I expected because of the protocols, it depends on your last name and the grouping that you fall in. I got through in about 15 minutes and my mother got through about the same time, but the other lines with more last names took really long. I came and met some of those people and left before them,” Sheila Harris explained.
Another voter who gave her name only as Samantha said: “I came to vote before I go to work but I realise that it is not going to be possible. I will come back after lunch time and hopefully things would be lighter then,” she said.
On hand to witness proceedings from as early as 6:30 a.m. at Combermere School, Barbados Labour Party incumbent Arthur Holder said that he was satisfied with the process.
One of Holder’s challengers, former Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley, said that while he understood that protocols are a must, given the COVID-19 environment, he was worried that people would be deterred from voting in an election in which he believes voter apathy and fear of infection could affect the turnout.
Atherley is a candidate for the coalition Alliance Party for Progress.
Democratic Labour Party (DLP) challenger Courie Cox said these were hiccups which he had anticipated in the lead up to the elections. He urged voters to be patient, noting that better cannot be done under the circumstances as safety was paramount.