Dozens of residents of St George queued up at polling stations from as early as 5:30 this morning to cast their ballots for one of four candidates in a general election many see as pivotal.
The signs of a large turnout were there in St George North, where more than 50 people had gathered at Glebe Polyclinc for a prompt start at 6 a.m.
Hoping to receive their votes were Gline Clarke of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), Jepter Ince of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), Everton Holligan of the United Progressive Party (UPP) and Grenville Phillips II of Solutions Barbados.
It was a diverse group that waited patiently to cast their ballots, including mature adults who preferred to vote before going to work, those who interrupted their early morning work-out sessions to ensure their votes would count, and a fair number of young people, including first-time voters, some of whom were accompanied by their parents.
Security officials at the polling stations said the process was smooth, while one voter told Barbados Today it had been steady but slow.
This was evidenced at the Valerie Resource Centre and St George Primary School where voters streamed in queue.
By the 8 a.m. the numbers had dwindled somewhat but there remained a moderate crowd of electors waiting to exercise their franchise.
BLP candidate for St Joseph Dale Marshall was among the hundreds gathered at the Valley Resource Centre. Marshall, who resides in St George North, expressed his hope that everyone entitled to vote would get to exercise this right.
However, he was worried that those who depend on public transportation might have difficulty getting to the polling stations on time this evening.
“I hope everything will go smoothly; I think Barbadians have long anticipated their hope to exercise their franchise and we have to trust the system. I just hope that persons will come out and vote and we won’t have any hiccups,” Marshall said.
“We are especially concerned about the transportation problem. We have a lot of people who are going to be relying on buses in the evening to go and vote . . . [and] we are a little concerned that there is going to be a large number of Barbadians stranded in bus stands,” he added.
Solutions Barbados leader Grenville Phillips II cast his vote this morning at Bethel Pentecostal Church in Drax Hall for his party’s candidate Andrew Banfield, the political leader revealed.
Banfield is up against the DLP’s Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo, Dwight Sutherland of the BLP, the UPP’s Craig Harewood and Doris Barrow of the Barbados Integrity Movement.
Even at the very early stages of voting, Phillips confidently predicted his party would secure 20 seats to give the three-year-old political movement the reins of power.
“When they go in the voting booth and they choose our candidates Barbados will do well . . . .The others [political parties] are promising austerity, the others are promising that you suck salt, the others are offering bitter pills. We are promising none of that,” Phillips told the media.
Meantime, the BLP’s Sutherland, who held the seat in the last Parliament, was in high spirits at Ellerton, where his childhood home is located right next to the Ellerton Primary School polling station which caters to over 500 voters.
The traffic at the school showed no signs of slowing down as constituents from St George South stood in lengthy lines eagerly waiting to mark their ‘X’. One constituent described the scene as “chaos”, as some waited for up to two hours to vote.
Barbados TODAY also caught up with the UPP’s Harewood who was confident he could pull off an upset.
“I am positive of my chances of winning. Persons have shouted me . . . [and] I am getting a good response on the ground,” he said.