Low-turn out in Referendum

The polls are due to close within the hour in Grenada’s historic referendum aimed at making changes for the first time to the island’s 1974 Independence Constitution.

The island wide voting exercise was noted for very poor turnout by the electorate in all fifteen constituencies on the island.

Polling stations opened at 6.00 a.m and are due to close at 5.00 p.m.

An electoral official told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the young people were noticeable absent at polling stations and mainly older folks made the slow trek to cast their ballots.

Voter and Civic Registration Officer at the Parliamentary Electoral Office (PMO), Ferdinand Phillip conceded that at 3.15 p.m as it now stands “we have a very low voter-turn out”.

‘It’s around 30%. We don’t know if it will pick up later on. The preliminary results show the older folks voted while the younger voters abstained”, he said.

According to Phillip, the turn out by the electorate is not in keeping with “the numbers that we expected to turn out to vote in the referendum”.

Another official told THE NEW TODAY that only 33 of the 267 persons on the list at a particular polling station in St. Andrew had come out to vote by 3.00 p.m. and only 91 out of 267 in another polling division in the city.

Minister of State for Information, Senator Winston Garraway was spotted by our News Desk casting his vote at the St. Mary’s Junior School at Tempe in the St. George North-east constituency.

Sen. Garraway disclosed that he voted for only three of the seven bills on the referendum ballot – the ones that got the approval from Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell in his pre-Referendum national address to the nation on Tuesday night.

These are Caribbean Court of justice (CCJ) to replace the British Privy Council as the final appellate court in Grenada, name of State change to put Carriacou & Petite Martinique on the passport cover and the Electoral & Boundaries Commission.

Sen. Garraway said he could not vote for the controversial Rights & Freedoms” bill, which critics have slammed as opening the door to same sex marriages on the island.

‘Originally I gave full support to it because I looked at the rights for education, the rights for women etc but when the church looked at the Gender aspect of it, and it created this controversy, I said, “well, I would obviously side with the church”, and I didn’t give that (bill) my support…”, he said.

Sen. Garraway is believed to be a pastor in one of the Ecumenical churches on the island.

As regards the other three bills – Leader of the Opposition, Term limit for the Prime Minister and Fixed Date for election, the government minister stressed that “they have controversy so I stay away from them”.

Just over 70, 000 persons were registered to vote in today’s poll.

Grenadians are expected to get a clear picture of the outcome of the Referendum by about 9.00 p.m tonight.

The individual bills require two-thirds support of the voters to become part of the Grenada Constitution.

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