Grenadians were casting their ballots on Thursday to elect a new government, in a general election that Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell called ahead of the constitutional March 2023 deadline.
Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) is among five political parties and one independent candidate facing the 87, 506 voters and seeking a historic third consecutive term in office, having won the last two general elections by sweeping all the15 seats in the Parliament of the tri-island state.
Its main challenger, as had been the case in the previous elections, will be the National Democratic Congress (UNC) that is being led foe the first time by 44-year-old attorney Dickon Mitchell, who as vowed to win back the government the party lost in 2013.
On Wednesday evening the High Court here threw at least two attempts to postpone the elections, including an application filed by a blind man, John Rullow, who argued that his right to secrecy would be violated on Election Day.
Rullow, who represented himself in the matter, argued for a declaration pursuant to Section 67, that “‘the mode of voting by ballot in special cases’” under the Representation of the Peoples Act 1993 and his “right to vote secretly guaranteed by Section 32 sub-section 3 of the Constitution, has been unjustly denied”.
He was seeking an order that the Supervisor of Elections, Elvis Morain “take immediate steps to furnish the necessary materials for electors to mark their ballot paper that would ensure that the claimant can legally exercise his right to vote by secret ballot in general elections”,
He also wanted the court to order that “polling day be adjourned to facilitate the procurement of materials and implementation of measures that will allow the claimant to participate in the 2022 elections” as well as “costs and any further relief that this Honourable Court deems just”.
But in dismissing the motion, Justice Raulston Glasgow ruled that Section 67 of the Representation of the People’s Act provides the sacrosanctity of the Constitution.
According to that section, the “presiding officer shall either deal with a blind elector in the same manner as with an otherwise incapacitated elector, as set out in sub section(3) or at the request of any bind elector who has taken an oath in the for set out…in the Third Schedule and is accompanied by a friend who is an elector in the polling division, shall permit such a friend to accompany the blind elector into the voting compartment and mark the elector’s ballot paper for him or her”.
It said also that “no person shall at any election be allowed to act as the friend of more than one blind elector”.
The polls are being monitored by observer teams from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS).
The Parliamentary Electoral Office (POE) is promising a free and fair elections and Morain, said that the only form of identification that shall be presented during Thursday’s general election is the voter identification card the PEO has issued.
His statement followed an NDC statement “strongly” recommending to its supporters that they should bring with them their “national ID card, voter registration card or passport when going to vote.
“Let me say first of all, your right to vote is inherent on you being registered. So once you have been registered, your right to vote is secured. The card is used for verification…within our system and therefore the only form of verification that is used is the card.”
He said the existing legislation “does not state if you don’t have a card you can’t vote and I want people to get that off their mind.
“What is important s once you are registered,” he said, outlining various scenarios as to why someone may not be in possession of a voter ID card.
“What is most critical is that once you are registered, so no one should be afraid in turning up if you did not have a card with you. Once your name is on the list…you are entitled to vote,” Morain said.
The 285 polling stations will close at 5.00 pm (local time) and the PEO said that Grenadians will have an idea of the winner within the next three to four hours.