Signs of a pending general election are everywhere in Antigua and Barbuda and with last minute legal challenges in Barbados which sought to prevent the government from disallowing persons infected with COVID-19 from voting, political actors here are taking note and seeking to ensure that all persons able to vote, regardless of their medical status, are allowed to do so.
Recently, all eyes were on Barbados where ultimately several hundreds, if not thousands of people, were barred from voting on Wednesday because they were either infected by, or in quarantine due to, COVID-19.
Here in Antigua and Barbuda, no discussions concerning what will happen to the COVID-19 affected when an election is called have as yet been entertained, however the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), in a preemptive strike, has indicated that it will stand firmly against any attempt to disallow eligible voters the right to do so, whether or not they are infected with the highly contagious and potentially life threatening disease..
While they have not themselves proposed circumstances under which COVID-19 infected persons, or those who have been exposed, can be safely included in the democratic process, the UPP stated, “…not even illness should deprive an eligible voter from casting his/her ballot.”
The party further issued a call for the Electoral Commission, and by extension the government, to devise mechanisms by which all voters can, “safely exercise their franchise.”