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Chief Elections Officer Fern Narcis-Scope

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Chief Elections Officer Fern Narcis-Scope says the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) is “pumped and ready” for the August 10 general election.

In an interview late Friday, Narcis-Scope said $43 million has been allocated to execute free and fair elections and training of returning officers is ongoing. During the COVID-19 lockdown period, senior administrative staff of the EBC continued to report for work.

She explained that the EBC has been liaising with the Ministry of Health and guidelines were provided for social distancing protocols during the voting process.

Narcis-Scope said a mock exercise will be held early next week following which the guidelines will be issued to the public.

“We are training returning officers as we speak. Writs are being issued today so we are getting ready. We are in the business of elections and we are getting ready. We do not have any challenges really,” she said.

She said there is not likely to be an increase in polling stations or election day staff and EBC officials “will simply do what is required to ensure free and fair elections on August 10. “

She explained: “We will have to reconfigure the polling stations to allow more spacing between polling staff and polling agents, as well as adequate spacing in the lines where the electorate are coming in. It’s a reconfiguration of the polling station, allowing physical distancing guidelines.

“I don’t anticipate an increase in manpower, at least not right now. We will ask the normal staff at the polling station to assist with whatever needs to be sanitized and ensuring that the members of the public and the electorate adhere to the guidelines.”

Narcis-Scope said the EBC had documented “what we considered to be some of the burgeoning issues relative to COVID 19 in terms of what we would do if we were faced with a community spread compared to what we would do if there was none and that is the current state of affairs.”

She promised that the EBC will be ready and everything will be in place for voting on August 10.

On the matter of expired ID cards, Narcis-Scope said the government had extended the validity of every ID card until December 31.

“You don’t need the ID to vote. The ID card issue is a non-issue for the purposes of elections,” she said.

EBC offices reopened to the public on June 8 and first-time registrants are being serviced.

“There has been a steady flow of interested registrants, first-timers coming in to conduct business,” she said.

“We are pumped and ready to deliver a free and fair election for 2020.”