Voter intimidation, vote-buying and manipulation tactics have been condemned by St James South Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Candidate Dr Ronnie Yearwood, who, from as early as 9:30 a.m. on polling day said he had reason to believe such issues were at play.
“Sometimes people don’t speak about these things, but we should always be concerned about voter intimidation or manipulation or vote-buying and as I said. New politics does not warrant that kind of behaviour and it needs to stop,” Dr Yearwood declared.
“We have to turn over a new leaf and therefore I say to those from that generation and that type of politics, that it is time that they step aside.”
Dr Yearwood, a law lecturer at the University of the West Indies, who was casting his vote at the Alexandra School in St Peter, did not identify what led him to raise the concern.
However, the first-time candidate said vote-buying cheapens the relationship between constituents and their MPs.
“These are always difficult things to prove but there’s an old saying that goes ‘you might not know what an elephant is until you see it, but when you see it you know it’s an elephant’. This is one of the elephants in the room in Barbadian politics and it needs to stop,” said Dr Yearwood.
“If someone pays you a couple hundred dollars for your vote, then there is no respect and dignity in that relationship and that’s not the relationship we intend or that we will build with voters.
“So that when they call and talk to us, we can represent them in real ways. When someone pays for your vote, that’s the end of that contractual relationship. When the voter complains that an MP had not gotten back to them then you understand why,” he added.
The candidate also complained that St James South constituents were being turned away from polling stations because their names were not on the list. In other cases, he claimed people living in the same house were said to be voting in different constituencies.
“It doesn’t make any sense and it just goes to show that the ECB has not done an effective job in ensuring that we had a clean and a proper list and these things affect elections. We should take these things seriously and sometimes I don’t think that we’ve taken these issues as seriously as we should and that’s slightly worrying in terms of our political process,” said Dr Yearwood.
Nevertheless, he thought his chances were good, having run a solid campaign based on the issues affecting the people of St James South, free from ‘gutter politics’ personality-based politics. [email protected]