They recommend the JCE prioritize the voting process for people over 65
In the virtual meeting organized by INTEC, Participación Ciudadana called on the JCE to launch a broad communication campaign on health protocols, a measure that will guide and motivate citizens to go to the polls.
SANTO DOMINGO. –The public health and epidemiologist, Pedro Luis Castellanos, current superintendent of Occupational Health and Risk, considered the lack of a mechanism to prioritize that adults over 65 years stay in the voting environment as little as possible as one of the weaknesses of the protocol approved by the Central Electoral Board (JCE), for the presidential and congressional elections on July 5.
By participating in the webinar "Vote and pandemic in the Dominican Republic", organized by the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC), Castellanos warned that older adults represent the population with the highest risk of transmission to the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
“We know that people over 65 years of age are at high risk of serious illness if they catch it, so what can we do for them, not to tell them not to vote, is to prioritize them at the polling stations so that they do not remain in the electoral environment beyond the few minutes necessary to vote, and this is one of the certain weaknesses that I see in the protocol that was approved by the Central Electoral Board, "said the official.
The epidemiologist called on the population to actively participate in the next electoral process, however, he understood that those who are positive for the virus should not go to the voting centers.
Meanwhile, Carlos Pimentel, executive director of Citizen Participation, highlighted how it is essential to start a communication campaign on health protocols established for the organization of elections, measures that in his opinion will mitigate the fear of the public to contract the virus during the process.
"The voter must know the protocol, the social organizations, the parties and the Central Board must start with a broad campaign to publicize the health protocol that was approved so that all citizens can know it and this can generate higher levels of confidence in the electoral process, ”said Pimentel, who also asked the electoral body to increase the voting period by two hours more than the time established to rigorously deploy security protocols.
In the virtual event, moderated by Rafael Toribio, political scientist and past rector of INTEC, the executive of Citizen Participation assured that the JCE must be the main source of information to achieve a communication strategy that can be assertive, pedagogical, with clear messages and that it has a wide diffusion, supported by the parties and organizations.
Fernando Henríquez, coordinator of the Justice and Transparency Table of the Citizen Forum, analyzed the country's scenario if the elections could not be held on July 5, as planned. In this sense, he pondered that safeguarding Dominican democracy and institutionality is also a great national priority. He said that the worst thing that could happen to the country is that a political and institutional crisis of unpredictable aftermath be added to the current health, social and economic situation.
"It is important that the elections be peaceful, massive, transparent, fair, that the vote abroad is respected. This July XNUMX will be the only chance we will have of being able to directly influence the destiny of our nation, ”said Henríquez.
In the event of the elections not being held before August 16, Henríquez understood that no decision would be institutional and that the ideal would be to make a broad, diverse, inclusive, participatory and horizontal political and social pact, in which the commitment to establish a provisional government with the task of holding elections as soon as possible.
On his side, the journalist Juan Bolívar Díaz, coordinator of the Democratic Coalition, favored the proposal of presidential candidate of the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), Luis Abinader, to organize a summit for national unity to face the situation of instability that the COVID- 19 has generated in the country and its possible effects on the electoral process organized by the JCE. In addition, he added that this initiative should be assumed by the President of the Republic as a way to face together the challenges that the new government will have to face.