East Coast youths ‘vote like a boss’
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Anthony Samuels, President of the Victoria Youth Organisation who organised to get the elderly and disabled out to vote on Monday
Anthony Samuels, President of the Victoria Youth Organisation who organised to get the elderly and disabled out to vote on Monday

…taxi drivers show compassion, pool resources to take elderly, disabled out to vote

By Naomi Parris

AMIDST the enthusiastic throng of youths who came out in the wee hours of the morning on Monday, ringing bells, blowing horns, and calling for residents to come out and vote were several older folks, who, having beaten them to the punch, showed up in their numbers to cast their ballots.

65-year-old Donald Cuffy exiting the polling station in his district after casting his ballot

Maureen Philadelphia made sure she was first in line at her polling station at Belfield, on the upper East Coast. Philadelphia, who is currently Chairman of the Grove/ Nabaclis Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), told the Guyana Chronicle that by all accounts, voting went very smoothly without a hitch. What came as a surprise to her, however, was the youth turnout.

Like Philadelphia, Shirley Hamilton, 58, of Victoria, she was astounded by the number of youths who’d turned out at the various polling stations to vote.

Hamilton said she and the members of her household got up very early to make their way to the polling station. “We woke up since four o’clock this morning to be on the move to come and cast our ballots, and it has been wonderful. Everything is in order, so far, so good,” Hamilton said, adding: “There is a lot of youths; more than the last time. Plenty came out, and it is so good to see that young people really taking up the initiative to do what is right.”

Eldon, a minibus driver, who was part of Samuels’ team of volunteers

Loreen Mayers, another early-morning voter, told the Guyana Chronicle that voting was simple and smooth. The presiding officers, she said, were very helpful, as they explained the process to her, and she was able to cast her ballot within a short space of time.

She said that seeing the large turnout of youths made her day, since it was quite pleasing to see young people taking up the mantle from the older folks.
“I had no problem; no issue. Everything was okay,” Mayers said, adding: “While I was coming out, I see a lot of young people finish voting and coming back home. So everything is smooth so far.”

And though Shivraj Jagdeo’s right hand was in a sling, the Cove and John resident made sure that was present at his polling station to cast his ballot. As he told the Guyana Chronicle, “I was not about to let a little injury prevent me from voting.”

An injured Shivraj Jagdeo exiting the Cove and John polling station after casting his ballot

Colin Hope, of Victoria Village, stated that while the current voting process is relatively simple, it is high time that it is updated, given the technology that is now available. “The process is the same as always; they got to change the system, so you know when you come to the polling place, you don’t have to check your name,” Hope said. “We must be able to swipe we ID card and mark ‘X’ and gone. You don’t want this body got to call out, and this body got to mark off,” he added.

And all Donald Cuffy, a 65-year-old farmer, wanted after ensuring that his vote was counted, was for Guyanese to remain calm and peaceful throughout the entire process. “I want everybody live in unity, work hard, and live long,” he said.

Meanwhile, the highlight of the day was the team of taxi drivers and vehicle owners from Victoria who came together to take several elderly and disabled persons to and from their polling stations. Said team leader, Anthony Samuels, President of the Victoria Youth Organisation (VYDO), “I am a vehicle owner, so I went around and mobilised a couple of drivers who volunteered to take the elderly to the various polling stations.”

Brian Smith, another vehicle owner from the Belfield, noted that he came out early to vote, so that he could later go around his village and other neighbouring communities to assist a few elderly persons to polling stations. “Well, I realise that it is important that we take the older folks and those who cannot afford transportation to the polling stations. So I offered my vehicle,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, ‘Eldon’, a minibus driver, opted to use his vehicle to transport as many elderly and disabled persons that he could. The young man stated that the initiative was just a little volunteer work to ensure that persons who were not able to move on their own were still given the chance to exercise their democratic right. Additionally, another volunteer who gave his name as ‘Bruce’ related that he knew of a few persons in his community who were only able independently move on their own and opted to take them to and from various polling stations free of charge.

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