The release of official voter turnout figures for the recently concluded Local Government Elections in Trinidad is painting a very different picture of the political landscape in the country. Low voter presence at the polls, as early reports claimed, suggested disillusionment with the electoral process and voter apathy. But the reality has turned out to be very different – the total opposite, in fact – the largest voter turnout ever in a Local Government election.
Only a handful of netizens on Facebook seemed to have taken note of the story the new figures tell. Rhoda Bharath reposted a status update from Colm Imbert, a member of the opposition People's National Movement, which won the elections:
Patricia Worrell, on hearing the news of the actual figures, commented:
Okay…not the lowest, the highest!
A minor discrepancy, surely?
Bharath weighed in:
448,000. If I look smug, it's because I'm feeling happy.
The efforts of many paid off.
Still think the electorate was apathetic?
This newspaper report confirmed the highest ever turnout and the CCN TV6 Facebook page (part of the same media conglomerate) also posted the official figures:
Official EBC Local Government Election Results
TOTAL ELECTORATE: 1036731
TOTAL VOTES CAST: 451179
VOTER TURNOUT: 43.52%
Bharath linked to the full Elections and Boundaries report here, then turned her attention to the media sources from which the original reports of low voter turnout came:
Dear Sampson Nanton, the CNC3 panel with Hamid Ghany and Maukesh Basdeo was the first place I heard the alleged stats of 26/7% voter turn out.
Can you indicate what was your station's source for the info?
Dale Enoch on I95.5 is currently blaming the EBC for the shoddy journalism exhibited by his news station.
Apparently is not their fault they didn't check their sources.
That last status update seemingly attracted some criticism, for she retorted:
So criticising a media house for spreading misinformation means you have a grouse against them… The same way criticising this govt automatically makes you a PNM.
Finally, she noted:
Guardian Editor is saying the stats quoted in the Guardian were given by an EBC source.
So does this mean the EBC was releasing unofficial stats before the voting was even done?
C News Live's Facebook page gave posted a table of the allocation of aldermen for the various districts, which emphasizes by how wide a margin the PNM actually won the election, securing just about 64% of seats.
The United National Congress, the party which the Prime Minister heads, won 25% and the Congress of the People, part of the governing People's Partnership coalition, just over 1%. Jack Warner's newly formed Independent Liberal Party, at nearly 9%, managed to win a higher percentage than the COP. But the real winner of these elections seems to have been the electorate, which exercised its right to vote and to enforce change – at least on a local and community level.