Infrastructure Minister Tim Baker has confirmed that the local authority elections will go ahead tomorrow (Thursday), as planned meaning isolating residents and even some candidates will be denied their democratic right to vote.
Mr Baker said: ‘My department has looked at all the options that are legally possible and it has worked with the local authority staff who have responsibility for running the elections to understand the operational issues that they are facing. Clearly, anything that is introduced at this very late stage has to be easy to implement by returning officers, clear to the public and legally sound.
‘Any legal change would have had to be approved by Tynwald before the polling stations open at 8am tomorrow, Election Day. We kept looking at the possibilities until the last moment but have had to accept that it was not possible to find a solution that was legal, workable and effective. The elections will go ahead as planned in those areas where seats are being contested.’
The issue was raised by Councillor Devon Watson on Tuesday who told Gef: ‘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.’
All three of the island’s main political parties have criticised the situation and minutes from Douglas Council have shown that the DoI was asked about how the situation could be avoided as early as March. The issue was also debated in Tynwald where many residents made their feelings clear on the issue that everyone who has the right to vote should be free to exercise it.
The issue has also received national coverage in the Guardian.