Electoral authorities say they are all but ready for the upcoming general election constitutionally due by early June.
Chief Electoral Officer Angela Taylor told Barbados TODAY this morning that the final aspect of the preparatory process will take place on Saturday when the last batch of presiding officers and poll clerks undergo training.
Taylor also revealed that having already visited two-thirds of the counting stations, Government engineers and members of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) are expected to continue their tours to other counting centres tomorrow.
“They have to check out the lighting,” she said, noting that security was also a key factor at these centres.
The Chief Electoral Officer also explained that the final voters’ list would be published about three days before the election date.
As far as “cleaning up” of the existing list was concerned, she did not anticipate that the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) would need to remove any additional names outside of the thousands already deleted from the Register of Electors up to the end of October last year.
A 76-page supplement to the Official Gazette dated December 25, 2017 revealed that the names of 2,836 people ranging in age from 23 to 110 were purged from the register for the period December 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017.
This process is usually carried out when electors die or leave the jurisdiction.
“We have many, many transfers [of voters] to deal with,” Taylor said in reference to those who would have relocated to new voting districts and need to be recorded on the register.
When asked to comment on the issue of Muslim women wearing the hijab when being photographed for identification cards that facilitate voting, Taylor declined to be drawn into the matter.
However, a senior EBC official who did not want to be identified, told Barbados TODAY the religious head cover was not allowed.
“Why you think they have to take a photo for elections? All of them have their ID cards already. There is not anything that requires an official position. We don’t have any challenge at this point in time. I think the Muslim community knows what the dress code is right now and they know what is being pursued by the Commission. So we don’t anticipate any problems with them for elections,” the official said, adding that legislation was being pursued that, if approved, would permit religious groups such as Muslims and Rastafarians to wear headdress.
“The legislation is going to be changed so that they are permitted to push the headdress back so you can see the hairline and the ears. That legislation is being pursued. So until then, we don’t have any outstanding persons for photographs,” the electoral official stressed.
The local military has already been given the “green light” to continue working with the RBPF to maintain public order for a period that coincides with the election season.
The Official Gazette dated December 28, 2017 revealed that the Barbados Defence Force had been given permission by then Acting Governor General Sir Phillip Greaves to work with the police from January 1, 2018 to June 30, 2018.
While not specifying a date, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart recently reiterated that the poll would be held “very, very” soon.
But with only about two months remaining before Election Day, the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) still has not publicly named its candidate for St John to succeed Mara Thompson, who recently told her constituents she would not run again.
In fact, the DLP has yet to officially announced whether or not Thompson will contest the upcoming poll.