Today is the big day. Election Day.
It's a regular day, with the exception that schools are closed, since many are being used as polling stations, hence the traffic will be bearable today.
Stores and shops are open, but no alcohol will be sold or served between 6am-6pm during the polling hours.
Businesses are open, however employers must allow their employees the minimum of one hour to exercise their right to vote. Failure to do so will result in a fine of Bds$500.00 or imprisonment for 6 months.
The end of all the canvassing, the constant radio and tv announcements, the radio call-in programmes inundated with nothing but politics, the newspapers filled with political material to fill a never-ending archive, oh yes, and all the election circulars which are dumped into your mailbox.
Democratic Labour Party Election Circular
Do you see that finger showing me "How to Vote"?
Barbados Labour Party Election Circular
Today will be a quiet day, almost sombre. No more election meetings, no more blaring loud speakers announcing party allegiance, no public discussions on politics....just a quiet day.
Today, the wearing of apparel bearing any political image or slogan is not allowed. No congregating within 100 yards of a polling station, no influencing voters, no asking voters for whom they voted....in other words keep ones opinions to oneself and mind ones business.
Of course the hotels have warned all their guests that the bar will not be serving liquor during polling hours, nor should they expect to be able to purchase liquor from any shop or supermarket on the island. Definitely not a rum and coke or martini day, except they have a previous stash of liquor in their rooms.
Actually the supermarkets usually have their liquor sections cordoned off for the day.
Now some background information.
The only people allowed in the polling station are the presiding officer, the polling clerks, the duty police officers, the candidates, their election agents and polling agents and the voters.
Just before the poll opens, the presiding officer shows the ballot boxes to those at the polling station to prove that they are empty. The boxes are then locked and sealed. In the polling station voters are directed to the presiding officer or polling clerk, who asks the voter his or her name, checks that it is on the register, and places a mark against the register entry. This records that the voter has received a ballot paper but does not show which one. The officer or clerk gives the ballot paper an official mark before handing the paper to the voter. The official mark is intended to show that the papers placed in the ballot box are genuine.
The ballot paper lists the names of the candidates in alphabetical order. Voting takes place in a booth, which is screened to maintain secrecy. The voter marks the ballot paper with a cross in the box opposite the name of the candidate of his or her choice, and folds the paper to conceal the vote before placing it in the ballot box.
A paper that is spoiled by mistake must be returned to the presiding officer. If the presiding officer is satisfied that the soiling was accidental, another paper is provided and the first is canceled. At the end of the voting the presiding officer delivers those spoilt papers to the returning officer. The ballot boxes are then sealed and delivered to the central point - the Counting Station, where the count is to take place.
All ballot boxes are taken to a central place in each constituency where counting takes place. Each ballot box is emptied, the papers mixed up and the votes counted by teams of helpers. This is done in the presence of the candidates. When all the votes have been counted the results are announced by the Returning officer. Depending on the time it takes to bring all of the ballot boxes to the count and the result of the count, the final result may be announced before midnight. Most results will come in during the early hours of the morning, but some will not be known until well into the next day.
If the result is close then either candidate can demand a recount. The Returning officer will advise the candidates of the figures and sanction a recount. Recounts can continue until both candidates and the Returning Officer are satisfied with the result.
Today, Barbadians vote not for a Prime Minister, but for the candidates running in each of the 30 single-seat constituencies throughout Barbados. A party needs to win 16 constituencies to command a majority in the House of Assembly, which allows it to choose a Prime Minister, formally appointed by the Governor General. Once selected, the prime minister begins the task of forming a government."
I'm off to do my civic duty...catch you all later.