The EC will blame Covid-19

The elections in Seychelles will start on 22nd October and they are probably the most awaited elections ever since the return to multiparty democracy. The holding of both the presidential and legislative polls at the same time has undoubtedly presented challenges and has been entrusted to the new Electoral Commission.

As polling day draws near, many an issue is still pending and the public also have some pertinent concerns. With the COVID19 pandemic threat ever present, the Electoral Commission working with the health authorities has the additional burden of ensuring public health safety during these elections. As part of its preparations it has changed the venue for the polling stations taking them to the grounds of many schools as their setting will enable the splitting up of voters into alphabeti-cal groups which will vote in different classrooms. Even this is not without its issues as some schools are currently undergoing reconstruction work. This has pushed the election organisers to move the polling station for an electoral area elsewhere.

Previously the voters from the St. Louis electoral area cast their votes at the Belonie Secondary School and those from Mont Buxton exercised their civic duty at the Happy Youth building, or the La Rosiere School. This year due to renovations ongoing on the Belonie School, the Saint Louis voting station has been moved to the English River Creche, whereas the Mont Buxton station will be at the English River Secondary School. This could lead to confusion as the two are within the same stretch of road and face each other. As the school is in town centre it could also lead to congestion with two polling stations in such close proximity. The English River voting station has moved to the Independent School which gives it ample space both for traffic and for the voting pro-cess itself. Since the Independent School has two branches the English River station could have been moved to the Ile du Port Campus and the Mont Buxton one to the main campus at Union Va-le. Again, this would have solved any possibility of confusion as well as traffic and parking issues. Ile Perseverance also boasts of two schools and its secondary school could also have been an alter-native for the English River constituency so that Mont Buxton could have been accommodated at Independent School and St Louis at the English River School.

Another issue causing concern is the special voting station at Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay quarantine facility to enable those who are in quarantine and who are eligible, to cast their vote. This has been welcomed by the population except for the fact that as yet, it is not clear when is the cut-off date for the Electoral Commission to receive the names of those who intend to vote there on that day. All stations have a specific voters’ list and for the special stations arrangements are made way ahead of voting day so that the EC gets the number and identities of who will be voting in those stations that day, so that they can make the necessary preparations. The Berjaya station will be catering for those Seychellois who are returning or coming into Seychelles and have to go into quarantine.

By Thursday last week, neither the Department of Health nor the EC had specific data pertaining to the number of people who have informed DOH of their entry into Seychelles and who have been listed to be able to vote from that station. People enter the country daily from abroad including visi-tors as well as residents. Among the residents some are coming in especially to vote in these elec-tions. So, knowing the closing date for the list to be drawn up is important as well as knowing who will vote from there. This would help to eliminate any possibility of irregularities which have cropped up in special voting station in the past.