Barbados: COVID positive people not allowed to vote in January election

Head of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit, Ronald Chapman

Source Barbados Today – Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to exercise their Constitutional right to vote in the January 19 General Election.

Making the announcement Saturday morning, Head of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit, Ronald Chapman said that it was “a hard pill to swallow” for anyone who wants to be a part of the electoral process but “we have to be our brother’s keeper”.

His comments were made during a news conference hosted by the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to give an update on its election preparedness.

“Persons who are tested positive for COVID we are asking those persons who are in home isolation to please stay at home. Persons who are obviously in isolation at the Harrison Point facility or any other facility, those persons are required to stay in those facilities,” Chapman said.

“We understand that voting is the cornerstone of our democracy [but] we are still in a pandemic and those persons are highly infectious and we wouldn’t want those persons to go out to a polling station where we know we have all cadres of Barbadians there. So, we still want to be safe and we are asking persons if they know they are feeling ill please stay at home. If you know you have a confirmed diagnosis for COVID and you are in isolation, that is what isolation is and you stay put,” he said, while noting that there will be no testing sites at nomination or polling stations.

Chapman also indicated that no provisions such as mail-in ballots for in-home isolation or quasi polling stations will be set-up at isolation centres to accommodate members of the electorate who are in mandatory isolation. He explained that the reason for this was because the Harrison Point isolation centre in St. Lucy along with other centres are extensions of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).

“At no point in time would you want to disenfranchise someone. It is one of the fundamental rights of who we are as a democracy. However, we have to recognise, and I will repeat it, those isolation facilities are extensions of the QEH. They are not institutions in themselves and I do not remember any time in the past … where provisions were made for persons who are in the hospital to vote. And a lot of those persons who would have been in the QEH and so on, those persons were not infectious. They were probably in there recovering from heart disease, trauma or something of that sort,” Chapman said.

“What we have now is a disease that is highly infectious. We have just been told by the chief medical officer not too long ago that we have Omicron here in Barbados and we know that Omicron is even more infectious than Delta. So, we have to be able to balance those too. We have to be able to err on the side of continuity of the country as much as possible,” he said.

However, Queen’s Counsel Hal Gollop, who also sits as a member on the EBC, has warned that because of the Constitutional element of the decision, it would be wise to first seek a legal opinion before any concrete decisions are made.

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  1. That is such a backward decision.Be creative Bajan Leaders and find creative ways to get those folks to vote. In such a time and situation they should be able to Vote without actually going to the polling booths. If you have Covid,you cannot Vote.That is one of the more nonsensical crap I have heard in a long time.

  2. I think something should be in place, because some of the most important voters might be affected as well as the political candidate…

  3. Totally illegal and unconstitutional in premise, especially when the sick and infirm have always been allowed to vote in elections. THIS GETS MORE SINISTER EVERYDAY!

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