UNC natex voting smooth in St Augustine, Tunapuna

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

From left, Ryan Jugmohan, Asha Deo, Jallisa Mally, and Shanti Jugmohan show their stamps after voting at the St Augustine South Community Centre during UNC’s national executive (natex) election on Saturday. – AYANNA KINSALE

A steady stream of voters turned out at two polling stations along the East-West corridor during the UNC’s internal elections on Saturday. Voting went smoothly for most people, but there were a few hiccups.

Voters from the Tunapuna district flocked to Hillview College, which was the only polling station in the area. Most of the voters were middle-aged and elderly.

Ethwarie Jagroop, 82, left, and her husband Buchoon Jagroop, 84 speak to Newsday after voting at the St Augustine South Community Centre during UNC’s national executive (natex) election on Saturday. – AYANNA KINSALE

The information officer said almost 150 people had voted up to 11.30 am, with polls having opened at 8 am. She said the line was moving slowly as there was a crowd of people.

At least six dozen people were seen leaving the venue as they complained the process was taking too long.

One voter said, “People had to wait an hour, two hours to go and vote? Is a general election or what? We going back home. One man stand up by the desk 20 minutes.”

One man, after castigating another man for not voting for the Star slate, said, “You see, when people can’t get what they want, they switch.

Voters wait in line to vote at Hillview College during UNC’s national executive (natex) election on Saturday. – AYANNA KINSALE

“Look at Mickela, since the last election she should have been out talking to the people. You think people going and come out to vote for you because of your father side? Come out and do something, let people see what you’re doing. Go in areas, build yourself, do walkabouts.”

Attorney Larry Lalla, who is running for chairman as part of the United Patriots slate, said the fact that the line was long was a good sign.

“Voter turnout for the party seems to be good. Reports from around the country seems to be there’s a steady flow of votes. There were a few incidents here and there with people having a bit of negative enthusiasm, that’s what I would call it. But I think everything is running smoothly and that augurs well for the party so far.”

UNC senator David Nakhid said he had heard no reports of a serious nature and everything seemed to be running smoothly.

At the St Augustine South Community Centre, the information officer said as at noon, the turnout had been good, with 300 people coming out thus far. The voters ranged from first time voters to the very elderly.

MP for St Augustine Khadijah Ameen speaks with Karoon, left, and Shafique Ali after they were not allowed to vote because they were not in possession of a party card at the St Augustine South Community Centre during UNC’s national executive (natex) election on Saturday. – AYANNA KINSALE

“We’re seeing a greater turnout than usual this time around for the internal election. Last time we had approximately a bit over 400 people for the whole day last year.”

Voter Dominic Smith said the process went well. “Everyone seems to be understanding the system and the process. I’m not getting any negative feedback from anyone and I think it’s a good turnout and a good effort by everyone.”

Husband and wife Buchoon and Etwarie Jagroop, 84 and 82, said the process had gone smoothly and they couldn’t complain.

Tamika Gonzales, 19, said she felt it was important for her to come out and vote.

“I think every vote counts, and I want to make a difference in this community. I will be voting in the general election next year and every year after that.”

At both venues, shuttles were provided to carry the elderly and the disabled to the polling centre and back home.

St Augustine MP Khadijah Ameen said she was voter number one at the D’Abadie/O’Meara polling station at the Malabar Community Centre.

“Our team has been here on the ground in St Augustine. Before I became MP, I was the councillor for the area and I was responsible for making a lot of membership in this area, so many of those people who are not familiar with the process have been reaching out to ask about the voting and I have seen a tremendously positive response. People are interested, they have their membership, some for many many years, and that’s a positive sign.”

Ameen said there had been some issues at the opening of the polls.

“We did have, very early this morning, some people with blue T-shirts came here, they were very aggressive, they are not from this constituency but I understand they’re working for another team. They were very aggressive towards other members, they invaded our tent, they told the person whose property the tent is in, you know there’s one UNC so they could stay there as well, which was very misleading.”

She said the issue was quickly quelled.

“St Augustine people are loving people, and we have that respect regardless of which side you’re supporting. Within the first hour, we made complaints to the presiding officer, who spoke to them, and since then we have not any trouble or issue.”

Ameen said she had observed a higher turnout than the last election. She said there were heavy rains for the last election, but this time there was good weather. She said there had been a steady flow of voters in the area.

“Some people are not clear, they think marking one X is ok, but you’re marking 17 Xs for the candidates of your choice, so they appreciate we’re here to share that information.”

Asked about the issue raised by Ameen via WhatsApp, Lalla responded,

“I haven’t heard any such reports. In any event, there is no law governing the setting up of mock stations in this election.”