AT JUST after midday on Friday, a 40 per cent turnout was reported for voting at Local Government Elections within the New Amsterdam township and environs, where 11,953 residents were expected to vote at 39 polling stations.According to reports, among the challenges faced by some was their initial difficulty to find the places of poll. Many persons were turned away from their traditional polling stations because their names were not listed there, and some disgruntled voters blamed the respective public relations teams of the political parties for failing to inform residents about where they were required to cast their ballots.
However, the traditional voters argued that many of the youths had made no effort to check the respective lists, and waited until the last moment, when they were under pressure from family members, to go vote.
Candidate Kirt Wynter of Constituency Three (Vryman’s Erven, Stanleytown, Savannah Park and Mount Sinai) was visiting the various polling areas in his constituency when this newspaper saw him. At midday, he had checked three polling stations, where 229 persons had cast their ballots out of 1,712.
However, some youths within Constituency Four (Stanleytown) told this newspaper that they did not encounter any problems, as one of the candidates vying in that area had visited them and had indicated the polling station at which they were to vote.
In New Amsterdam, personnel attached to the main contesting parties visited the homes of the differently-abled and the elderly in order to have them transported to the various polling stations.
However, in East Canje, Newton Winfield was concerned that residents in his Cumberland constituency were not turning out as expected. It was thought that the non-availability of vehicles to shuttle the shut-ins was causing some difficulty.
“I cannot do it on my own. I was not provided with a vehicle… The people asking for a car to take them; I do not have that…,” he confessed. However, a political agent who was seated next to him at the Cumberland bus shed observed that Winfield’s running mate had secured three vehicles, and was visiting homes and taking persons to the polls. “But he ain’t got nothing… How dem people gon come out?” she asked.
At Goed Bananen Land in East Canje, the pace was also slow. Residents said this was so because persons were at their various workplaces. They were expecting the situation to improve during the afternoon, when the temperature would be cooler.
Political observers, noting that the turnout was not as expected, blamed the apathy on the absence of Local Government Elections, which were last held more than 22 years ago.
Some youths who spoke to this publication opined that their ballot would “not change anything” and so they did not see it as necessary to go to the polls.
It was business as usual in the New Amsterdam township, with little talk about what changes the LGE could bring. However, the polling stations were opened at the scheduled 06:00hrs, after ballot boxes and Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) personnel had been transported to their various locations from as early as 04:00hrs.