United National Congress (UNC) political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has no authority by law to tell voters they must wear masks to vote.
She also questioned the criteria it will use to turn voters away from polling stations for exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
Addressing a political meeting in Chaguanas last night, Persad-Bissessar argued that the election guidelines can be used to debar UNC voters and “steal the elections”.
“Is it going to be the presiding officer who says, you are exhibiting symptoms, you can’t vote?” she asked, adding, “You will put a doctor in every station? What will you do, import them from Cuba?”
She added: “They could just look at you and say you are UNC and say you are exhibiting COVID symptoms…you can’t vote.”
“What madness is this? Again…designed to kill us and steal the elections – politically kill us,” she said.
She said that the UNC will pursue the matter of stopping voters without masks, in court if necessary.
“I want to say the EBC cannot legally disenfranchise anyone for not having a mask. I am not saying don’t wear masks, I’m saying it should be optional.”
“The EBC does not have the power in law. Remember your powers. You want to tell us you don’t have a mask don’t come to vote. The EBC does not have that power. The wearing of the mask should be optional,” she added.
She said the government has failed in the management of COVID-19.
“Government blaming everyone else for rising COVID cases. They blame nationals returning from overseas and they are even blaming me.”
She added that low testing is the reason for the low number of cases.
“We should have tested at least 10 per cent (of the population) to get a true picture of our status. We are nowhere near there. They’ve flattened the curve by flattening testing. They have been lying to you for months.”
She said the high number of news conferences hosted by the government was to spread lies and propaganda.
She advised UNC members to hit the road on and ensure the election machinery is in place for the start of Monday’s special voting exercise because the Government has failed to bring international observers.
She told the meeting that she was “very very disturbed” and worried that the Government had not obtained the observers.
“I don’t think it is by chance or accident. I believe it is deliberate that observers are not here and we have to be vigilant on all of the aspects of the voting process.”
She said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley knew what he had to do to arrange for the observers and since everyone knew that elections were in 2020, some arrangement should have been in place to have Commonwealth observers.
She said he would have been aware of the Commonwealth’s arrangements – including bearing the financial costs – to send teams to countries to observe elections.
“Every child knew elections were in 2020 – how come Rowley didn’t know that?” she asked.