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Chief Elections Officer Fern Narcis-Scope

Shastri Boodan

Chief Elections Officer of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Fern Narcis-Scope says there is no law requiring people to wear a mask to vote during the general election on August 10.

Narcis-Scope made the comment on Sunday after a report in the Trinidad Express suggested Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram had said voters who did not show up at polling stations wearing masks to protect from the COVID-19 virus would not be allowed to vote.

“There is no law saying no mask no vote,” Narcis-Scope told Guardian Media.

Narcis-Scope said the EBC was seeking the cooperation of the public and political parties to ensure that all is being done to prevent the spread of the virus during the run-up to the election and on the day of the voting process.

She said the EBC had been in conversation with the CMO, who submitted a document on COVID-19 protocols to be followed to them on Friday for consideration. However, she said that document has to be finalised. Narcis-Scope said the newspaper story was incorrect, adding it would be illegal to debar people from voting even if they turned up without masks.

Narcis-Scope said the EBC wants the full cooperation of the public on August 10 and is also looking at providing masks for people who got to polling stations without masks.

Narcis-Scope’s clarification of the issue came even as UNC activist Devant Maharaj had threatened to take legal action against the CMO to ensure all voters could cast their ballots, noting to debar those without masks from voting was unconstitutional.

“I have referred the issue to my attorney Anand Ramlogan SC to advise on legal options to challenge the restrictions and thereby allow all citizens to vote without any fetter. I plan to take this matter to court once my lawyers give me the green light. We run the risk of the police interfering with the constitutional rights of persons and chasing them out of the polling station,” Maharaj said before Narcis-Scope clarified the issue.