By Michel Outridge
THE polling stations in Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo) on Friday had doors opened for voting in the Local Government Elections from 06:00hrs to 18:00hrs, but voter turnout was relatively low.At the polling station at the Lethem Community Centre, a one-flat concrete structure, polling agents were at their desks awaiting voters and it was reported that about 60 persons showed up to cast their votes.
During the morning hours there was no queue at all, but two men were seen checking the preliminary electors list for their names before going into the polling station to vote.
One such person was Walter George, who told this publication that he is a first-time voter at the historic Local Government Elections. Guyana has not had LGE since 1994 and many in the Lethem community deemed it a welcome change. George said he thought it best to vote for the development of his community, which is Central Lethem.
He told the Guyana Chronicle also that Lethem over the years had been grossly neglected and it is time for infrastructural and other long-term development not only for foreigners, but also for the youths, who were observed as being not too inclined to vote.
George was however disappointed that many persons were not out in their numbers to cast their votes Friday morning.
Meanwhile, at Arapaima Primary School, Virgina Phillips who was also a first-time LGE voter, said she had to come out and vote because it is in the best interest of the village; but she was upset that more people were not present to cast their votes.
Meanwhile, at the Tabatinga Sports Complex, even under a makeshift tent, several residents braved the scorching sun and showed up in their numbers and waited in line for their turn to vote.
Most of those gathered were the older folk, who expressed a feeling of satisfaction, having voted for a political party of their choice.
HASSLE-FREE AT TABATINGA
Regina James, another first-time LGE voter, told this newspaper that she was pleased that she came out to vote despite the unwillingness of some villagers. She added that she came out to the polling station at Tabatinga and went in and voted hassle-free.
However, at Culvert City Nursery School, there was no voter in sight; the only persons were the GECOM staffers who were seated behind several tables and chairs. However, they said a few persons did show up to vote as early as 06:00hrs.
At Moco Moco, the polling station was housed at Miss Grimmond’s residence which is about 14 miles from Lethem. Only 18 voters, mainly older folk, showed up to cast their ballots. The youths were notably “missing in action,” this publication observed.
There were only two observers, who are attached to the US Embassy in Georgetown, and they told this publication that they could not comment on the LGE voting. However, they visited the polling stations in Lethem and the far-flung community of Moco Moco.
Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman was also in Lethem and visited the various polling stations to get a first-hand glimpse of the voting process.
In sun-kissed Lethem, it appeared to be a normal day on Friday and most residents opted to go very early to the polling stations to cast their votes after which they went about their normal business.
Overall, the LGE voting process was incident-free in Region Nine and the only polling station where there was any queuing was at the Tabatinga Sports Complex, while in many sections of Lethem it seemed as though it was a Sunday.