Fern Narcis-Scope, Chief Elections Officer, Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC)

Chief Election Officer of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), Fern Narcis-Scope, says the voter turnout in Tobago has been much higher so far for the day than the turnout in January.

Speaking to Guardian Media Limited around noon on THA election day, Monday 6th December 2021, Narcis-Scope said she witnessed the opening of the polls at the Bon Accord Government Primary School.

“That went well and certainly while I was there, I saw a number of the electorate coming in to exercise their franchise.  From all reports—I have visited quite a few polling stations this morning—high elector turnout from the numbers and we expect things to continue to run smoothly throughout the day,” she said.

She said there were no reports of any irregularities at any of the polling stations.

Narcis-Scope said the voter turnout seems to be higher than during the January 25 election.

“I personally am of that view.  Certainly, the politics from January till now things have intensified the campaign from the major parties, and I expect that in turn will result in a higher turnout.  From when I liaised with the returning officers we saw in some cases 18-20 per cent of the electorate out by 10am, which is a little usual.”

She said this may translate into a higher overall voter turnout than in January.

Narcis-Scope said all COVID-19 protocols were in enforced at polling stations. However, Narcis-Scope said the pandemic presented the EBC with other issues:

“We have struggled to have the adequate numbers of staff.  I understand up to last night there were persons who got phone calls from health informing them that they were COVID positive and of course could not work in our polling stations.”

But she said additional staff was trained to fill those gaps so the process could continue uninterrupted.

She said the EBC will soon approach the Government with recommendations to treat with campaigning on social media on Election Day.

She said no reports of such campaigning were reported to the EBC but the legislation governing such campaigning needs to be updated.

She also estimated that results from today’s election may be ready between 9pm and 10pm on Monday.

“Had I been able to do that pilot project in those two districts I would have been able to give you that very early.  It is unfortunate but in the spirit of cooperation we decided to pull that back and we do hope we can roll that out for the upcoming local government elections at the end of next year,” she said.