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Voter indecision caused ballot spoilage, not language barrier

Voter indecision caused ballot spoilage, not language barrier

Elections Supervisor Scherrie Griffin has dismissed suggestions that the fairly high number of spoiled ballots coming from yesterday’s general elections was an indication that there was a significant language barrier at play.
Some observers suggested that the quantity of spoiled ballots that emerged during the elections count could have been attributed to a lack of Spanish-language ballots; an issue which may have impacted a small but fairly significant segment of the Spanish-speaking voting population.

But Griffin argued that there may have been other serious factors at play that may have caused the aberration.

“I do not want us to be misled in thinking that any spoilage of ballots was necessarily or primarily as a result of the language barrier,“ Griffin stated. “It also has to do with persons’ indecisiveness.”

She suggested some persons may have second-guessed their vote and perhaps took the opportunity to correct their initial mistakes. Griffin offered that the issue should be looked at more holistically and not just from the language barrier perspective.

Meanwhile, Griffin contended that bilingual (Spanish and English) ballot papers, as some may have requested, was not an option that could have been considered, since there was no legislation in place to accommodate such a provision.

“There is some consideration that was given into possibly having the ballots and other material in Spanish. However, the BVI has not officially recognised or considers Spanish as a second language,” Griffin commented when asked about the issue.

She added: “That, in and of itself, then creates a challenge for me in doing so if it’s not legislated. I’m under no obligation to do something of that nature.”

However, Griffin did state that because the territory is made up of a diverse society, this is something that would be helpful and should be taken into consideration going forward.

Some residents also commented that the shading area on the ballots may have been far too small for some voters. But it was explained that voters were given an indication by the ballot machines whenever a vote was not initially accepted and thus allowed an opportunity to re-cast their vote and have it counted.

Griffin commented that while her first outing as Supervisor of Elections proved to be challenging, she received overwhelming support from close family members and friends as well as members of her office and the Deputy Governor’s Office.

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