by Anmar Goodridge-Boyce
Residents in the north of the island, St Peter and St Lucy in particular, wasted no time in exercising their franchise today.
There were long lines at several centres across the two parishes, signalling a steady flow even before the scheduled 6a.m. opening of polling stations.
They came in their numbers, young and old. Some walked, while others arrived by car.
The moment the doors opened and the green light was given by the returning officer at The Alexandra School in St Peter, voters flowed freely to cast their ballots for one of the three candidates in the race – Colin Jordan of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), Dave Cumberbatch of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and Apostle Lynroy Scantlebury of Barbados Intergrity Movement (BIM).
Among the early voters was former DLP candidate for St James North Austin Husbands, who made it clear he liked being “one of the first persons at the polling station and it is absolutely important that I exercise my franchise”.
Although he did not name the candidate who would receive his support, Husbands left little doubt who it would be.
“You would obviously know who I am supporting,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Despite the early morning rush, Husbands said he was pleased with the voting process, which he described as “extremely fast”.
“The polling station opened on time, which is an important thing. Quite often you have a long wait because they are not working as quickly as they should, but they have done a good job and it is very efficient.”
The former candidate stayed behind the scenes this election campaign, explaining that it was the first general election in his political career that he had not attended the rallies, mainly because he did not like the direction the campaign had taken.
“I worked behind the scenes but I didn’t go to meetings. I didn’t like the way the campaign was going and some of the things that I saw happening on Facebook. There was an aggression that was coming from supporters of the parties involved and I did not like that,” he said.
First-timer voter Bikoh Dowrich also would not state expressly who would get his vote.
However, he said enough to give more than a hint.
“It is my right to vote so I decided to use it today. Going to UWI [University of the West Indies] brought things into place for me. You have to make the best decision and especially for single parents, tuitions fees are hard and are stopping poor people from going to UWI,” he said.
Just after 10 a.m. the quiet at All Saints Primary School erupted into a sea of excitement as a smiling and confident BLP candidate Colin Jordan and his wife Charmaine arrived to cast their votes.
Jordan, who pleasantly acknowledged family members whom he hoped would cast their ballots in his favour, told Barbados TODAY he was optimistic based on the voter turnout.
“I am feeling pretty good. I have been to a number of the polling stations in St Peter and the turnout has been heavy and the faces of the constituents in the lines were pretty happy when they saw me, and I think they are with me and today are making a statement.”
The BLP’s hold on St Peter preceded single-member representation, with the party having at least one representative there going back to 1951.
Since 1984, it was held by Owen Arthur, who was Prime Minister between 1994 and 2008, and continued to be the representative until this year, even though he quit the party in 2014.
However, he had long anounced plans to retire from active politics at the end of the last Parliament and had endorsed Jordan as his successor.
“Strangely enough I don’t feel pressure. The transition has been pretty seamless. I have been prepared for this moment and I want to thank Mr Arthur for that and the team that supported me,” Jordan said today.
Within the seven polling stations visited by Barbados TODAY there was a modest crowd at Half Moon Fort Primary School in St Lucy where voters swiftly entered and exited the polling booth, seemingly anxious to cast the all important ballot.
Over at the Salvation Army Church in Checker Hall there was a struggle to enter the small compound, as at least 70 people stood in line.
One official of the Electoral and Boundaries Comission revealed that the lines were long from as early as 5:30 a.m.
In St Lucy it’s a five man race among Denis Kellman of the DLP, the BLP’s Peter Phillips, Solutions Barbados’ John Carter, BIM’s Richard Roach and Wayne Griffith of the United Progressive Party.
Steady voting was also reported in St Andrew and St Joseph today where electors were casting their ballots with little or no fuss.