Heavy rains keep voters away in PNM elections

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The presiding officer at the Pleasantville Secondary School, Pleasantville ensures the voter places her ballot in the box at the polling station for San Fernando East constituents during the PNM elections on Saturday. – AYANNA KINSALE

THE PNM said flooding and bad weather affected some of its members to vote in its internal elections on Saturday.

While the official election date is December 4, voting began on Saturday and continues on Sunday.

PNM members will also be allowed to vote on December 4, the date of the party’s convention at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain.

In a statement around 5.29 pm, PNM general secretary Foster Cummings said the party is “paying close attention to the prevailing weather conditions and the adverse effects that are being experienced across the country.”

Cummings noted reports of flooding, landslides and infrastructural damage, presented in the updates from the Rural Development and Local Government Ministry.

“We encourage our members and all citizens to put their personal safety and that of their families first, and to desist from taking any risks at this time.”

Cummings said the PNM echoes the sentiments of its political leader, the Prime Minister, for people to “look out for one another, and to co-operate with officials as needed.”

The party’s thoughts are with people who suffered damage or inconvenience, as a result of the bad weather.

Cummings said, “Our party stands ready to lend assistance, as needed, to the first responders, and by extension, to those severely affected.”

While voting began in its internal elections on Saturday, Cummings said, “The bad weather is inhibiting our members’ ability to journey to their respective polling stations.”

The polling stations, located in all 41 constituencies, would remain open until 6 pm on Saturday.

They will reopen between 8 am and 6 pm on Sunday.

Cummings said, “Members who are unable to vote this weekend will once again have the opportunity to do so between 8 am and 1 pm on Sunday, 4th December, 2022 at the Annual PNM Convention at the Queen’s Park Savannah.”

Cummings is running unopposed.

At Pleasantville Secondary School, where the polling station for the San Fernando East constituency was located, there was a small trickle of PNM members coming in to vote around 10.30 am.

An election official opined that the heavy rains which started earlier in the morning, could be the reason for the low turnout there.

The official said, “We have no idea what God plans.”

A polling clerk at San Fernando West polling station checks the id card of a voter at the Skiffle Bunch Pan Yard on Coffee Street, San Fernando during the PNM elections on Saturday. – AYANNA KINSALE

A woman, who declined to give her name, described the voting process as smooth after she cast her ballot.

“You see this weather. I wanted to vote early.”

A second woman, who also declined to give her name, was happy that PNM members had three days to vote instead of just one.

“People had foresight.” Referring to the rainfall, she added, “Sometimes it takes things like this to show the wisdom of a decision.”

At Skiffle Bunch Pan Theatre in San Fernando, election officials said the number of members voting by 11 am was 22. They were hopeful that more people would come to vote, once the weather improved.

The theatre is the polling station for San Fernando West. Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi, who is also San Fernando West MP, was scheduled to vote there on Saturday.

He is the sole candidate for the public relations officer post.

Al-Rawi did not vote as he hosted a news conference on Saturday to brief the population about the response of the ministry and other agencies to the heavy rainfall and bad weather that TT was experiencing.