#TurksandCaicos, February 8, 2021 – The protocols to ensure safe voting environment on general election day were on Friday released and the Turks and Caicos Islands Elections Office informs the guidance had weigh-in by both political parties, at least one independent candidate and the Human Rights Commission.
Among the changes at polling places in this Covid-19 era, are extended hours for voting. The voting day begins now at 7am and will end around at 9pm.
On all islands, the first group of voters will be the vulnerable and other priority electors who are not in quarantine, isolation or positive for COVID.
Group one must turn out to vote between the hours of 7am and 9am. Group two votes from 9am to 6pm in Providencials and 9am to 4pm on the other islands and ensures there are seven to nine hours available to the majority of the electors; those who are not in quarantine or positive for COVID and who do not fall into the vulnerable category.
The final group is Group Three; these voters are positive for Covid-19 positive, in isolation or in quarantine and these individuals will vote from 4pm to 6pm on all islands outside of Provo.
On Providenciales, this Group Three will turn out for voting from 6pm to 9pm.
The protocols are also now revealed.
The Elections Supervisor in the national update explained that all voters are required to pre-screen.
To residents the rules say: If you are experiencing symptoms call the HOTLINE and be cognizant that you can vote but only within the period designated for you. You’re going to wash your hands before you vote. You’re going to wash your hands after any interaction at the polling site because hand washing stations will be set up… and you’re going to make your selections with a pencil which you will take with you once voting is done.
Physical distancing of six feet is enforced and so is the wearing of a face covering. Non-medical grade is actually recommended for non-Covid and non-Covid suspected electors.
The only time a face covering can be taken off is if the poll workers need identification verification. The process will be brief, therefore the face covering is to be immediately replaced.
Sanitizer will be on site but voters are encouraged to bring their own supply.
Poll workers will need to have their PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) already supplied. The Elections Office listed: masks, face shields, gloves and gowns.
Training in properly donning these items is recommended.
Vulnerable voters should return home immediately after voting given the high rate of infection in TCI at the moment in nearly all islands.
The process for Covid-19 positive individuals and those in some sort of quarantine are understandably more stringent.
The regulations say this: First thing, you have to inform the Ministry of Health hotline and there will be instructions for voting; this needs to happen before you venture out. Once you do, you have to be dressed for the occasion. Disposable gown, gloves, face shield and a medical mask snuggly covering nose and mouth. The country is depending on these individuals to be patriotic by being responsible; which means go directly to the voting place; ensure there is only a driver and no one else in the vehicle.
Recommended is NO air conditioning, turn windows down and allow fresh air to flow through the ride. The Elector must practice all the protocols including a six feet minimum physical distancing.
For the voters, this time around there will be increased signage. A recommendation is for the Elections Office to increase the number of polling stations.
The Governor, His Excellency Nigel Dakin said in a separate report that, he has also asked the Elections Office to create a reserve list of election day workers; in the event of a shortage.
Poll workers have to follow strict protocols and capacity per site is capped at 30 percent.
General election day in the Turks and Caicos Islands is on Friday February 19, 2021.