Election at the edge

THE most recent poll by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) on the sentiment of voters going into today's election concluded the result would be too close to call.

It's another campaign of strategy, with pitched battles for a surprising number of marginal seats. NACTA's Dr Vishnu Bisram has declared ten of the seats in Trinidad and one in Tobago to be marginal. According to the pollster, both the PNM and UNC have 15 safe seats.

Among the marginals, the UNC leads in Pointe-a-Pierre, Chaguanas East and Barataria, while the PNM leads in Tunapuna, Toco/Sangre Grande and San Fernando West. In the poll, neither party had more than 50 per cent support in these seats.

Surveying the electorate this close to an election is risky. Voters answering poll questions are sometimes unwilling to declare their allegiances in the heat of campaigning, and last-minute dirty-tricks campaigns can either sway voters or disillusion them so completely that they overturn previous projections.

It seems clear that many voters are unhappy. The abundance of party promises has not been matched by any announcements of a realistic architecture of structured planning for an economic recovery beyond the current crisis.

Dr Bisram found that 57 per cent of voters declared that their lives have not been improved and businesses, unsurprisingly, complained of diminished revenues in 2020.

What’s important today is that each voter visit their polling station. The EBC’s website offers a search tool that makes it easy for anyone to find their registration status and voting zone.

Over the 14 previous parliamentary elections, from 1961 to 2015, there has been a steady increase in the number of voters turning out to face the polls.

In 1961, 333,363 voters were counted. By 2015, that number had grown to 731,821. But a tripling in overall population numbers has not been matched by a growth in the percentage of eligible voters who turn up to cast their votes.

On the contrary: after an 88.11 per cent turnout in 1961, voter turnout has dropped consistently to between 65 and 69 per cent of the electorate between 1966 and 2015.

From 1971 to 1981, a decade of economic and social disruption, voter interest in the electoral process dropped significantly, bottoming out in 1971 at 33.17 per cent.

Indifference is exactly the wrong response. In times of difficulty and challenge, the loudest voice in determining the nation’s future belongs to the collective voting public.

Each voter has a chance to put a hand on the scale of governance and determine the responsibility for managing the considerable challenges facing TT today.

It may not always seem a very effective way of bringing about needed and wanted change. But it is the first step. It all begins with your vote. Get out and let your voice be heard.


"Election at the edge"

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