People who are required to isolate because of a positive Covid PCR test will not be allowed to vote in this week’s local authority elections.
Voters in Castletown, three of Douglas’ four new wards, Garff’s Lonan Ward, Jurby, Onchan, Peel and Santon will go to the polls this Thursday to elect their representatives at a local level for the next four years.
However, unless they had the foresight to know they would catch the virus, or something in Mystic Chess’ horoscopes told them of what was to come, anyone who is isolating in these areas has missed the boat to allow them to vote.
A spokesman for the DoI told Gef that due to the legislation which these elections are being held under, the elections are the responsibility of the local authorities and the relevant Returning Officer. He added ‘if a voter did not apply for an absent vote before the deadline or is unable to attend a polling station on Thursday July 22 due to self-isolation rules then they will not be able to vote’.
The spokesman also said: ‘The Local Government Unit is always available to provide support to local authorities and in this case has suggested considering the UK electoral commission’s guidance around local elections during COVID, which includes carrying out risk assessments.’
One such person who faces an inability to vote this week is Douglas Councillor Devon Watson. He announced on Twitter today that he is suspending his physical campaigning because he has tested positive on a lateral flow test.
Speaking to Gef, Mr Watson said: ‘Elections, particularly local ones, can be swayed by a few votes. With turn out already low, large numbers of people barred from voting puts the legitimacy of our democratic systems in doubt.
‘Many of those isolating are young. They’re more socially active, many have only had a single jab and they make up a bulk of the service workers on the island. This will have an impact on the outcome. This disaster was entirely foreseeable and avoidable.’
Douglas East MHK Clare Barber has an urgent question this exact topic due to be asked in Tynwald tomorrow, so watch this space.