By Miranda La Rose Monday, May 19 2014
Incumbent PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley was “a bit anxious about the logistics” at the start of the party’s internal elections which has used the one-man-one-vote system for the first time, but his fears seemed allayed after he had cast his vote.
An estimated 82,000 PNM members were listed to vote in the historic poll which replaces the delegate format used by the party since 1956.
Expressing some anxiety, Rowley told the media yesterday at the polling station at St Anthony’s College, Westmoorings, “We have discovered some problems,” related to slow movements at some polling stations where large numbers of voters turned out, but “so far from reports things are going very smoothly across the country.”
“We worked quite hard. We have made best efforts to enable party members to take part in this process.”
Rowley cast his ballot at about 11.15 am at St Anthony’s College where during the morning hours over 100 people stood in the line at any one time before noon waiting to vote.
His wife Sharon, he said, could not vote because her name was spelt incorrectly. When it was checked on the final voters’ list, her name was correct but in transposing it the mistake might have occurred, Rowley said. “She was disappointed she could not vote for me,” he said “but she understands that the process will be improved.”
One of the problems, he said was that many people did not bother to check their names on the lists and when they turned out to vote they could not vote in a particular area.
Expecting some hiccups, he said, “You must remember where we coming from. We are coming from a place where we had a database in which people joined the party at one time in one place and would have moved around since.”
This was unlike the Elections Boundaries Commission which has continuous enumeration.
Pleased to see that many people were taking part in the elections, he said, “By and large, we hope to get good results” on a “historic day.”
One of the reasons for the delay, he supposed was due to the fact that 15 positions were being contested. He expected that more votes than the last local government elections and the general elections of Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada put together would be tallied. He anticipated that counting would go “deep into the night.”
“It is a major logistical exercise the party has embarked on and the first time we are doing it,” he said. “We are learning as we go along. We expect there will be lessons to learn and when we do it next time we will do it better.”
If persons who had not voted within the allotted time but were within the precincts of polling stations, he expected that they would have been allowed to vote.
“Whatever happens at the end of the day, the PNM would have done well,” he said.
When the party embarked on the logistical exercise, he said, “we are discovering the real scope of the exercise and the cost. We will review what has happened and I am sure the General Council will want to make some adjustments for the better.”
The process is not cast in stone, he said, “and it may very well be” that the leadership could be elected at a different time from the executive of the party. The leadership includes the political leader, chairman, lady vice chairman and the general secretary.
Casting their ballots at Maraval RC School, Maraval were MPs for Diego Martin North East Colm Imbert and Diego Martin Central Dr Amery Browne. Imbert, who is contesting the position of vice chairman, said the process had been smooth and the lines short at the polling station.
The smoothness, he said, was directly tied to the experience of the persons managing the station. “I took less than two minutes to vote,” he said. He expected about 30 percent to 35 percent of the voters turning out.
Browne in brief remarks said “there were no major complaints” across the western peninsula.
Concerns were mainly about delays due in part with people coming to terms with the new system of the one-man one-vote.
Declaring that the victors in the elections will win by a “bit of a landslide,” Browne said that once the elections are over, “I hope we heal as a party, move on and get ourselves ready for the major political battle ahead - the 2015 general elections.”