Election Day Has Begun in Trinidad & Tobago

"Trini gyul"; photo by Shiv, used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

“Trini gyul”; photo by Shiv, used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

After an insanely odd season of political campaigning, it is finally election day in Trinidad and Tobago. Netizen accounts on social media suggest that despite conjecture about a passive electorate, the voter turnout has been solid at most polling stations across the country:

There has, however, been mischief making in the lead-up to the polls, which the opposition People's National Movement, according to the latest research, is predicted to win, though many feel it will be a tight race. At the PNM's final rally this past Saturday, a man who called himself ‘Jesus’ set fire to the stage; there were no injuries and the man was taken into police custody.

There have also been signs posted in the electoral district of San Fernando West suggesting that Faris Al Rawi, the PNM candidate for the area, was ineligible. The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), the body responsible for electoral management, has since issued a statement urging the public to ignore those notices, confirming that Al Rawi is a bona fide candidate.

This morning, there were two bits of concerning news. One was cited confirmation by the Acting Commissioner of Police that the police service is investigating a report that officers allegedly raided the homes of two United National Congress (UNC; the main party in the current People's Partnership coalition government) in search of “political and membership listings”.

The second was a statement by the EBC saying that “they must receive an official complaint about digital/social media campaigning on Election Day, in order to investigate.” It is against the law to solicit votes on election day. Opposition leader Dr. Keith Rowley has since submitted a formal complaint to the EBC:

On Twitter, netizens posted comments about having done their duty by voting:

Others reminded fellow citizens about the importance of voting, and most feedback was that the process was smooth, pleasant and incident-free. Trinidad and Tobago, unlike other regional territories, does not have a history of violent elections.

Other areas reported long waits:

Independent journalist Wesley Gibbings noted that:

2010 saw the voting into power of the current People's Partnership coalition government after citizens voted against the excesses and mismanagement of the Manning administration, who was the then-leader of the PNM.

Five years later, there seems to be an overwhelming feeling of deja-vu — the government of Kamla Persad-Bissessar has been plagued with allegations of corruption, poor governance and mudslinging — and according to some, that's just the tip of the iceberg. It remains to be seen whether the electorate is as disgruntled with the direction of the country as it was in 2010; tallying of the results will begin after the polls close at 6 p.m. Trinidad and Tobago time today.


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