Political Science lecturer Dr Kristina Hinds has suggested that the exclusion of over 6,000 people who are isolated with COVID-19 from casting ballot in Wednesday’s general election raises questions about democracy here.
In fact, fellow analysts Peter Wickham and Devaron Bruce have warned that an unusually low turnout due to isolation numbers and overall apathy, the outcome will not represent the true will of the people.
“I think it is really undemocratic for us to go forward in this way,” Dr Hinds declared on Barbados TODAY’s Election Pulse programme.
“I am less concerned about what this might mean for the election outcome and more concerned about what it means for a country that says it is a democracy”.
The politics lecturer suggested it was somewhat ironic that the country approved the Charter of Barbados and became a parliamentary republic but would “disenfranchise” thousands of voters weeks later.
According to Bruce, the impact of the developments on the outcome of Wednesday’s poll could be quite significant. He warns it could “haunt” the successful administration throughout their five-year term, especially if the results are close.
“You can literally see how 5,000 people could have a dramatic impact on the results of the election… and we just simply don’t want a situation where a government is elected by a minority number of votes,” said Bruce.
“That is never healthy for a democracy. That is something that will hover over them for the remainder of their political life, particularly since we’ve heard the narrative of despotic leaders and democracy needed. We don’t want a Barbados Labour Party that is elected with 50 per cent of the vote, because this carries on that argument unnecessarily,” he added.
Wickham warned that the voter turnout could be underwhelming because many on both sides of the political divide believe the result to be a foregone conclusion. With others likely staying away due to COVID-19 concerns, the exclusion of infected people who are in good health is, in his view, adding insult to injury.
“I think it’s an indictment on us, as not only a democracy but a modern democracy, that we cannot find a way to accommodate those persons that are otherwise healthy but have been afflicted with an infectious disease,” said Wickham.
“And I think that’s unfortunate because if enough people do not participate in the election, it changes the likely outcome. We saw it in Barbados in 2013, and to this day, I am convinced that a majority of Barbadians thought that the Barbados Labour Party was the better option after we had four and a half years of Freundel Stuart.
“Nevertheless, the Democratic Labour Party won because you had a reduced voter turnout, and there we have it. So it can happen, and the best way to avoid unintended consequences is to go out and vote based on your own personal intention,” the pollster declared.
Both Wickham and Dr Hinds have also cited concerns about further COVID-19 infections as people avoid being tested to vote on Wednesday. [email protected]