You are here
EBC spends $3m for THA polls
The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) is expected to spend an estimated $3 million in preparation for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) January 21 election. The disclosure was made by Ramesh Nanan, the EBC’s chief election officer, on Friday at the EBC’s head office in Port-of-Spain.
Three political parties—the Platform for Truth, the Tobago Organisation of the People, the People’s National Movement and their candidates will contest the 12 electoral districts. Of the $3 million, the largest slice has gone towards training of 600 polling staff which was undertaken in December, hiring of four returning officers, and advertisements that will be aired in the media from this week about the dos and don’ts when the electorate go to the polling stations.
With 46,607 individuals registered to vote at the 67 polling divisions, Nanan was quick to point out that his 400 staff members had put in months of hard work in preparation for the electoral process to ensure it remains free and fair. The EBC has seen an increase of 3,984 voters for this year’s election when compared to the 42,623 who were registered to vote in the THA’s 2009 election.
Only 24,034 voters or 56.39 per cent of the voting population exercised their franchise in the last election. Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden has recorded the highest number of voters—4,285, while Bethel/Mt Irvine has the least—2,059.
There must be checks and balances
The shift of two electoral districts—Belle Gardens West to Belle Gardens/Goodwood and Belle Gardens East/Roxborough/Delaford to Roxborough/Delaford, did not see a significant rise in the voting population, Nanan stated. On Thursday, under the watchful eyes of police officers, over 100 ballot boxes along with several polling booths and kegs of electoral inks were shipped to Tobago to be used in 97 polling stations.
“Transporting the boxes involved a lot of security. We had to co-ordinate the efforts of the police to ensure the boxes were not tampered with.” Just back from Tobago, Nanan said no candidate or political leader raised any issues with the EBC during his visit. Another area that the EBC has been paying close attention to is the Information Technology department which stores its computer and software, storing sensitive and personal information about each registered voter.
Only few staff members are allowed in this area. “Those who are allowed in this department have limited access. There are always checks and balances.” Nanan has already held a meeting with acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams requesting a minimum of 97 police officers to ensure law and order at all polling stations.
Nanan warned that voters and citizens who fail to adhere to the EBC’s rules and regulation on polling days are liable to be fined and imprisoned.
Fines and imprisonment
For canvassing within 100 yards of a polling station, Nanan said a person can be fined $7,500 or face six months’ imprisonment. Also, the sale of alcohol on polling day can land you six months in jail or a $15,000 fine. After giving 27 years of service at the EBC, Nanan was appointed to steer the EBC’s ship last May.
While admitting that the management of any election would have its fair share of challenges, Nanan said they must ensure the commission is accountable to all taxpayers and remain an independent body. “We have to manage the public purse prudently.” Electoral ink that was ordered for the 2010 general election and not used, Nanan said, will be utilised on polling day.
The kegs of the ink, which were in storage, were sent to the government chemists for testing before it was shipped. “The EBC always ensures that the ink is properly tested for its staining properties and to be certified. We’ve had two elections in 2010. There was no need to make a new batch of ink for this election.”
The 12 electoral districts and its voting population
Bacolet/Mount St George-3,505
Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden-4,287
Parlatuvier/ L'Anse Fourmi/Speyside-3,512
Providence/ Mason Hall/Moriah-4,084
Scarborough/ Calder Hall-3,940
Voters who do not see their names on the voting list at their polling station can call EBC’s hotline at 627-1516, 627-0745 or 639 2929 between the hours of 6 am and 6 pm.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.