The race for the post of chairman of the Congress of the People is expected to be a close one as Public Administration Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, a former deputy political leader of the COP, and incumbent Joseph Toney face off at the polls today.
This, as the membership of the six-year-old party, one of the partners in the People's Partnership government, votes to choose a new executive for the next two years.
Also contesting the chairmanship post is Rekha Ramjit.
Chairman of the Elections Commission Vallence Rambharat told the Sunday Express that in the tradition of the last two internal elections, today's exercise is expected to be "calm, free and fair".
Nominations for candidates closed on October 5 and Rambharat confirmed 19 candidates will be vying for the eight positions.
Nicole Dyer-Griffith, a former parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Communication, Vido Ramroop and Hugh Nurse vie for the deputy chairman position, while Kerry-Ann Sudama and Sharon Ramnarine contest the post of secretary of finance.
Alvin Cudjoe, Kirt Sinnette and Gilbert Agard battle for secretary of field operations, and Kishore Ramadhar will run unopposed as secretary of education and research.
Dr Omar Ali and Rudolph Hanamji, face off for the post of secretary of communication, while the public relations secretary seat will be filled by either Chezette Baillie or Deonanan Jagdeosingh.
Satu Ann Ramcharan and Wendell Eversley are vying for secretary of elections and voter registration, while Lisa Henzell and Naidu Powdhar contest the secretary of membership and mobilisation.
Rambharat said last week that Conrad Chin Fatt who was contesting the secretary of finance post and Owen Hope who was vying for the secretary membership and mobilisation both withdrew their nominations citing "personal reasons".
While the COP has 42,000 members on its voters list, the chairman of the Elections Commission expects between an eight to ten per cent turnout.
In the lead-up to today's exercise, Rambharat said the "Elections Commission had hosted three common platform debate series, in Chaguanas, San Fernando and Tunapuna, where the membership, members of the general public and the media were invited to hear the candidates present and debate, national as well as internal issues".
During the debate series, he said "we allowed almost ten hours of intense scrutiny from the membership as well as the media, and we thought that this allowed our members to be better able to judge the strength of character and the plans and programmes of the candidates."
The atmosphere was heated at times, as candidates criticised one another, especially those vying for the chairmanship. Toney was slammed at the San Fernando meeting for accepting the controversial CLICO brief which he subsequently turned down.
Rambharat explained that there are 20 polling stations scattered throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
The polls open at 8 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. Results are expected to be in by 7 p.m. at the COP's election centre at Plaza de Montrose, Chaguanas Main Road, Chaguanas.
"All systems are in place for the conduct of the polls, polling staff has been trained," Rambharat said, adding that it's a one-man one-vote, system and a member can vote at any one of the polling stations.