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Editorial: Is It Really Safe To Cast Our Votes?

THEY stood in their thousands yesterday to vote. In the heat. In crowded lines. In the middle of a pandemic.

At many places for yesterday’s advanced poll, The Tribune saw people huddled close together to gain entry to voting locations.

No matter how many times experts have said we should observe social distancing, people have had to crowd together in order to exercise their simple right as a citizen to vote.

And to add to the mix, those who are in quarantine will be able to vote next week – but Minister of Health Renward Wells has not clarified how those people will be able to vote, and what will be done to prevent them mixing in with everyone else.

It’s a mess.

Neither the election nor the pandemic has come as a surprise. We’ve been dealing with the pandemic for a year and a half, so we knew it was here and that quarantined voters might be an issue. Nothing seems to have been done to resolve it and here we are scrambling at the last minute to find a safe way to vote. The election itself was called after months of speculation, so there was ample time to find solutions before now.

Instead, here we are with people queuing for hours in the sun closely packed next to others who may or may not have the virus – but these are conditions only offering COVID a chance to spread.

The cost of it all will be seen a couple of weeks after the election, when the virus has developed in others and the already overloaded hospitals will have to deal with the consequences.

Despite that, National Security Minister Marvin Dames only admitted to “kinks” with yesterday’s process, while saying he expects things to run smoothly next week.

Mr Wells, meanwhile, said yesterday that “during this election, we’re treating everyone who comes to the poll as if they are COVID positive”.

Really, Minister? Is that why there was little social distancing to be seen at a number of locations?

If you’re assuming everyone is COVID positive, then that means you’re looking on as the virus spreads.

It looks increasingly like there’s going to be no guidance at all and people who are supposed to be in quarantine will just line up alongside everyone else. Is that it, Minister? Or would you like to clarify the position with election day next week?

Other solutions could have been worked out. Proxy voting, mail-in voting, drop box voting, all of those might have been options for people in quarantine – if it had been worked out sooner. People could have been confirmed to have been in quarantine and as a result able to vote in another manner. Why didn’t we? Were voting rights so easily overlooked?

Don’t rely on others to keep you safe when you go to vote next week. Take water to drink, take sanitiser, take masks and do your best to keep your distance. Take your safety into your own hands – and don’t be afraid to ask police officers at polling stations to play a part in keeping people distanced.

At every election, we urge people to use their votes wisely. This time, act wisely when you cast your vote too, and stay safe.

Government silence

There has been a pattern recently with court cases involving the government.

The court sets a deadline for the government to act – most notably this has happened in immigration cases where the government has been given a deadline to present its case over why detainees were held. The deadline arrives, and the government has nothing to present. The other side wins the case, and off they go.

In the case reported today on our front page and in the business section, the result is that residents in central Eleuthera may have their water cut off this afternoon.

The government was given until today to respond to a proposal for a new contract for the company operating the reverse osmosis plant there to continue. That ruling came in a court case last month, in which Supreme Court Justice Indra Charles said the company was entitled to terminate its deal – but gave a stay of execution until today for both sides to work out their differences. The government reportedly owes that company $1.6m across all the plants it operates.

But after offering a proposal, all the company has received is silence.

The company, Aqua Design, said that barring any change in position by the Water and Sewerage Corporation – which would mean a change this morning – it will cease production of water at the plant.

It should be a simple matter. There’s a bill. It should be paid. Without payment, the company is not obliged to keep working.

Is silence really the best answer the government can give? And what answer will it give residents who have no water after 2.30pm today?

They have done nothing wrong, and absolutely don’t deserve to be caught in the middle.

Comments

birdiestrachan 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The FNM boast of proven leadership, that is not true. it has to be among their biggest LIES they do not seem to understand that 1 and 1 equal 2 as simple as that is. matters that are very simple they do not have the ability to solve.

VISIONLESS THE WHOLE FNM CREW.

Why was the early voting such a mess??

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birdiestrachan 4 months, 2 weeks ago

doc is only fooling himself less than two months ago labour unions were not allowed to have a motorcade now he and his FNM party are holding the drive in rallies all over the place. and COVID is worse

The devil has left the doc to his own vice.

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The_Oracle 4 months, 1 week ago

The systems are broken, the Political parties (and occupants thereof) we suffer with are simply a consequence of the systemic failure. Government gives no credit, but will stretch private sector vendors out beyond 180 days if allowed. Government does not follow its own rules. And we still sit here believing somehow the PLP or FNM can or will behave any differently next time around.

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JokeyJack 4 months, 1 week ago

It is not safe to vote. I heard that everyone who voted last Thursday has already died. Better to let the FNM kill you slowly.

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