LGE 2023: Smooth process in Linden as youths, elderly brave weather to vote

By Jarryl Bryan

Despite rainy and overcast conditions and barring a few hiccups, persons of all ages came out to vote in their respective constituencies in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Essequibo) during this year’s Local Government Elections (LGE) as the major candidates reported a relatively smooth process.
In constituency one, (Bamia-Ameila’s Ward), voting kicked off at 06:00h sharp under inclement weather. The rain put a damper on early voting, but one of the candidates who did brave the rain was former Alliance For Change (AFC) Member of Parliament (MP) Audwin Rutherford.

PPPC candidate Dwayne Charles after casting his ballot at the Linden Foundation Secondary school.

According to Rutherford, who is now a candidate on the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) slate and voted at the Linden Foundation Secondary, the voting process was relatively smooth. He added that he expected more voters to come out as the day progressed.
“We would have started on time, all the different polling stations here. And I know that we are prepared. I’m really optimistic… I’m assured that we will do well today,” Rutherford said, adding that the party has done well to try to get its supporters out to vote.
Meanwhile, APNU candidate and former Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon, who also cast his ballot at the Linden Foundation Secondary, also observed a relatively smooth process. He did note that there were a few hiccups of persons not being able to find their name on one polling station or place and having to go to another location.
“I am satisfied that our agents were here on time. We verified the process before it got started. And so far, as it relates to voting, I am encouraged by the turnout we saw this morning… I think all in all, notwithstanding the weather, it’s very encouraging to see people coming out for Local Government Elections.
“I hope before the day is out, I hope people continue to come out and exercise their franchise. We’ve done a lot of work on the campaign. Personally, as a candidate myself, I’ve done a lot in terms of ensuring we bring representation to the people of Amelia’s Ward,” Solomon said, also expressing optimism about the party’s chances in the rest of constituencies.

Hard fought campaign
Dwayne Charles, a first-time PPP candidate who is also contesting in constituency one, meanwhile confirmed that the voting process was a generally smooth one. He was also confident about the PPP’s chances in Amelia’s Ward, considering the campaign work his party has done.
“I visited two polling stations so far and the process has been smooth. To me, all of the polling agents came out early and ready to work… so I like the process so far. We’re going to get a large turnout. Persons of Amelia’s Ward in particular, they’re excited to come onboard and vote for many reasons,” Charles said.
“We would have seen that persons came out very early at Amelia’s Ward Primary School. Now we’re here at (Linden Foundation Secondary) and we’ve seen the turnout. So, I’m expecting a better turnout by this afternoon. And I must say we would have put out work, my team and I. We put out the work throughout the campaign season. And I know that we’re going to get the support, because of the plans we have as a party.”
APNU Member of Parliament Jermaine Figueira, who voted in Wismar, meanwhile said that his party has confidence in winning all the seats. He also lauded GECOM for the work they have done so far and expressed optimism that with the systems in place, the results will be provided in a timely manner.
“The turnout was good so far. I understand the history with regards Local Government Elections. It has never garnered the amount of turnout like General and Regional Elections. But from our estimation, we are seeing some level of improvements. The people of Linden are taking this election very seriously.”
“With regards to where I voted and the role GECOM is playing, I think they’re doing a very favourable job at the moment. My polling station didn’t experience any issues so far, but I was told the polling station in Amelia’s Ward, some of the residents haven’t seen their names on the list. Which is very much concerning for us,” Figueira said.

Diversity in age
A diverse range of voters, meanwhile, turned out to vote, in some instances braving the rain. While some locations, like Middle Street nursery in constituency five, saw only a trickle of voters, polling places closest to the Main Road were the busiest.
This included Harmony Secondary School in constituency six (Dallawalla/Christianburg), situated on Burnham Drive, which saw a steady stream of voters. There were even families who came out to vote, such as the Samuels family of constituency six.
At Wismar Hill Primary School, the elderly and the youth came out to the vote. They included 21-year-old first-time voter Antonio Durant. Also casting his vote was 84-year-old Arnold Archer. Both related that the voting process was a smooth one.
In 2018, the Linden voter turnout was strong, and 5132 valid ballots were cast. Of that number, 3306 were for APNU and 402 were in favour of the PPP. The AFC got 1075 votes back then. That incumbent Town Council was made up of 16 seats, with APNU having 13, the AFC 2, and the PPP/C one.
In Linden, there are several PPP/C candidates who have crossed over from APNU. Besides Rutherford, these include Errold Roetham and Keith Ferrier, who contested in constituencies six and seven, respectively.