Self-isolation could stop hundreds voting in Isle of Man elections

Councillor says many will be unable to vote due to Covid rules, with deadline for absentee ballots passed

Hundreds face being excluded from elections in the Isle of Man because of a lack of contingency plans for those self-isolating, it was claimed on the eve of polling.

Elections are due to take place in a third of the Isle of Man’s local authorities on Thursday, having been postponed twice due to Covid-19 restrictions.

But with case numbers rising, many people who need to isolate are said to have been unable to access alternative voting arrangements as a deadline for absentee ballots was seven days before polling day.

Devon Watson, a local councillor for Douglas Town, who tested positive for coronavirus on Monday, said: “This is going to have an obvious impact on the election, especially given the fact that local authority elections can be swayed by a couple of votes.”

“Many of us are just completely unable to vote as we are forced to stay at home due to isolation rules. But this seems as though we’re not allowed to go out and participate in the election process.”

As a young person, Watson said that he was part of a group that was disproportionately affected, adding: “When hundreds of people who are young are unable to vote, it is a violation of pretty basic and fundamental democratic principles”.

Coronavirus cases in the Isle of Man have risen exponentially over the past week, with an increase from 30 to 238 new cases between 13 and 19 July.

On Tuesday, an emergency question was tabled at Tynwald, the parliament of the Isle of Man, which was warned that hundreds of people risked being excluded from the democratic process.

Tim Baker, the minister for infrastructure, said that it was “not a widespread issue” and that the numbers of people who needed to isolate were relatively small.

However, local councillors and potential voters have argued that the numbers of people having to isolate may be significant enough to drastically affect the election results.

A spokesperson for the Isle of Man government said: “This matter has been looked at in-depth in recent days and is being taken extremely seriously. Everything that can be done is being done to ensure anyone who wishes to vote in the forthcoming elections is able to do so safely and legally.

“While the advice received to date indicates that a change to existing absent voter regulations may be technically feasible, it will be challenging to achieve in such a short time-frame as this will also “impact those local authorities who are organising the elections.

“For this set of elections this would therefore be Wednesday 14 July, and means that if a voter has not registered by this time then they cannot take advantage of the absent vote process. Within the current legislation, there are no other mechanisms to enable people to vote.”

The contests will take place in a third of the Isle of Man’s local authorities, including the areas of Castletown, Douglas, Peel, Santon, Onchan, Garff and Jurby.


Tobi Thomas

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
'We’re in fine fettle': joy on Isle of Man as Covid lockdown ends
As pubs and cafes bustle back to life, islanders are thankful for ‘that bit of water between us and UK’

Steven Morris

01, Feb, 2021 @3:33 PM

Article image
Isle of Man accused of 'authoritarian' lockdown measures
Residents locked up in allegedly ‘inhuman’ conditions for rule breaches

Jamie Grierson Home affairs correspondent

27, May, 2020 @3:07 PM

Article image
Covid control lessons from Nicaragua and the Isle of Man | Letters
Letters: The UK should take the lead from Nicaragua, where early strict measures have kept the coronavirus death rate one of the lowest in the world, writes John Perry. Plus Harry Galbraith on the approach taken by the Isle of Man


31, Dec, 2020 @6:14 PM

Article image
Three jailed on Isle of Man for breaking Covid quarantine rules
Sentences handed to travellers returning from UK who failed to self-isolate for 14 days

Helen Pidd

23, Aug, 2020 @4:04 PM

Article image
Boost self-isolation payments or risk Covid resurgence, experts say
Thinktanks urge UK government to fund system that would cover wages on a similar basis to furlough scheme

Denis Campbell Health policy editor

13, May, 2021 @11:01 PM

Article image
Labour urges Rishi Sunak to extend Covid self-isolation payments
Chancellor must expand support scheme or risk fourth national lockdown, Anneliese Dodds warns

Jessica Elgot

21, Feb, 2021 @10:30 PM

Article image
Sturgeon warns of repeated self-isolation once lockdown eases
Scottish policy paper emphasises coronavirus ‘test, trace, isolate, support’ strategy

Severin Carrell Scotland editor

04, May, 2020 @2:01 PM

Article image
Covid death on Isle of Man deals a blow after tough lockdown
Manx government has run strict regime to keep island virus-free but isolation exemption for ferry workers causes anger

Helen Pidd

14, Mar, 2021 @2:49 PM

Article image
Coronavirus symptoms force Boris Johnson to stay in self-isolation
Despite completing seven days of quarantine, PM to stay inside Downing Street flat

Kate Proctor

03, Apr, 2020 @1:44 PM

Article image
Covid: hundreds self-isolate after Norfolk poultry plant outbreak
At least 350 staff and households affected despite PM vowing to address food factory issues

Kevin Rawlinson

27, Aug, 2020 @2:35 PM