Cellphone alert at polling stations
By ALEXANDER BRUZUAL Monday, October 21 2013
With Local Government elections taking place today, voters were reminded that while they ought to do their “civil duty” and vote, they also needed to follow the instructions at the respective polling stations — especially the warnings which banned the use of cellular phones or cameras while voting.
This reminder was made yesterday by Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Chief Elections Officer Ramesh Nanan, during a press briefing with Nanan and the EBC Chairman Dr Norbert Masson, at the EBC’s head office along Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain.
Nanan reminded voters that the use of cellular phones, cameras and electronic devices had been prohibited in polling stations while voting, and voters were advised that, in order to avoid any complications, to place such items in a receptacle before going to vote and retrieve them on the way out.
“We have taken special precautions, especially given certain concerns raised, and the polling station staff are properly trained and advised to be on the look out for persons with any electronic devises. We have taken steps to prevent persons from going into their voting areas with cellular phones, cameras, anything electronic really, and we advise voters to put these items in a receptacle before going to vote. We say this, because if they are found utilising these devices while doing their civil duty, the police will have no choice but to take action against them,” Nanan warned.
He said to make this clearer, signs will be placed near all voting stations to ensure that all voters were keenly aware of the stipulations.
Nanan reiterated there should be no campaigning and no assembling of people within the 300-yard limit of the polling stations.
He said the EBC met with the police on October 4 to discuss security arrangements on polling day and had subsequently held several briefings.
Dr Masson also expressed similar views, and when questions were raised about further measures which could be utilised to ensure utmost transparency, he noted that the EBC was currently doing everything in its power to ensure such a system. However, he noted that sometimes, even the best of efforts will be criticised.
“Remember we had voting machines in 60s. But at that time, and similarly like now, people felt something was wrong. They believed that it was a system which could be easily tampered with, and as such we had to move away from it. So no matter the best efforts that we can implement and utilise, we have arrived at a point where people will have full confidence in an administration and in the method being utilized, if we can progress,” Dr Masson said.