By Julie Carrington
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (BGIS) — Chairman of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC), Leslie Haynes, has made it clear that the EBC will be “bound by the law” and, until the law is amended, COVID-19 positives in quarantine and home isolation cannot vote.
Speaking during a news conference to give an update on the Wednesday, January 19, General Election and other matters, Haynes made it clear that the Commission had sought an opinion from its legal counsel and was satisfied with the advice given.
He reasoned that COVID-19 patients in isolation were prevented from voting on polling day “solely because of the COVID-19 Directive currently in force under the Emergency Management Act, which prohibits those persons from leaving isolation for any reason”.
He added that the EBC was following the law and until lawmakers amended that law to allow those persons to leave isolation to vote on polling day, the Commission could only advise the public accordingly.
The EBC chairman further stated: “Let me say clearly, that the role and function of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission, as set out in our Constitution, is the administration and conduct of free and fair elections in Barbados.
“The Commission carries out that function according to the Laws of Barbados. In other words, the Commission does not make laws, neither can the Commission change any laws, it can only operate within the confines and within the boundaries of those laws.”
When asked how election workers would handle a voter with a high temperature based on the protocols in place at polling stations, Haynes noted:
“If a person comes with a high temperature, as we did in the St. George North By-Election, we will ask that person to relax for a moment, take five minutes and then that person’s temperature will be taken again.” Haynes continued: “If and when we take that person’s temperature for the second time, the temperature is still high, we will then give that person priority. That person will be brought to the door away from other other voters in the line and that person will be given priority to enter the polling station, then the protocols in the polling station will apply.”
He maintained that after the person had voted and exited the polling station, while maintaining his/her physical distance from other voters standing in line, the voting booth and everything used in the polling station would be sanitised.
The chairman cautioned that voting could take a “little more time” if multiple persons showed up to polling stations with elevated temperature levels.
He gave the assurance that the EBC was focused on conducting the January 19 general election in a manner that gave the utmost priority to the safety of election workers and voters.