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Police called in to maintain order at registration centres

Police called in to maintain order at registration centres

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Police have had to be called in to supervise the registration of individuals for national identification cards in some constituencies where potentially dangerous situations have arisen.

Supervisor of elections Sylvia Findlay made this disclosure last Sunday, while a panellist on the ‘Views on Issues’ programme on NBC Radio.{{more}}

She said while the registration of voters must be done in public, the process must be orderly and there must be no intimidation of persons seeking to be registered.

“…What goes on there is not a free-for-all and certainly it has to be done in an atmosphere of order. If anybody feels threatened or uncomfortable by what is going on, that people are intimidating them or recording what they are saying, that is unacceptable. My officers are not trained in law enforcement, so I call people who are trained in law enforcement,” the elections supervisor said.

Findlay’s comments came in response to callers who complained that at some registration centres, members of the public have been making audio and video recordings of the interview between the registering officer and persons seeking registration.

Findlay said she knows that she has received some criticism for calling in the police, but it was done in cases where there was the potential for a dangerous situation to occur.

“…The registering officers who have encountered it have reported it to the Electoral Office and I know the supervisor of elections has gotten some flack for calling police officers to supervise registration at certain constituencies and it is for issues like that.

“…If persons are not complying willingly, I will have no redress but to call a law enforcement officer,” Findlay said.

According to the elections supervisor, this problem does not usually occur in rural communities, and if it does, the registering officers summon a police officer, since most of them are justices of the peace.

She said the problem tends to occur in Kingstown.

“…It tends to be the Kingstown communities where we have the problems and West St George….That is where it happens!”

Addressing the complaint of a caller that at the registration centre at the CW Prescod primary school in East Kingstown, people outside are able to hear what registrants tell the registration officer or read the personal information that is written on the blackboard when the person is being photographed, Findlay said she will see what adjustments can be made.

“While the interview is private and we would like people to stay a safe distance, … from the level of the Electoral Office, [we] do not want it to seem to be something we are covering up…

“I will have a word with the registering officer. I may go there myself week after next, and see if we could adjust…”

Findlay, however, said while members of the public are complaining about a lack of privacy, the political parties are saying something else.

“You are complaining about the lack of privacy, political party operatives are complaining about the opposite situation…”

She however stressed that while persons working with political parties are allowed to observe what is taking place, they are not allowed to make audio or video recordings or write down people’s personal information.

“If they have a problem, they are allowed to write down what their concern is,” she said.

Findlay said now that the matter has been raised, she intends to pay special attention to what goes on during registration at the C W Prescod primary school.

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