Bethel: Slow voter registration
The Parliamentary Registration Department is reporting a very slow voter registration process, with just over 10,000 persons completing the exercise since the drive began back on October 4, 2010.
“So far it has not been going as well as I would have expected. I am hoping that now that the new year is here and everybody knows that the time is really getting short, that we should see a change in that and that people would come out,”Parliamentary Commissioner Errol Bethel toldThe Nassau Guardianyesterday.
“I think we in The Bahamas are privileged in a sense and we have the opportunity to register and to vote. We are free citizens in a free society and everybody should relish the opportunity to register and to cast their vote,”he said.
According to Bethel, the 10,000 registrants is a small number when compared to the number of eligible voters.
The department is projecting that between 170,000 and 180,000 persons are eligible to vote. Bethel reported yesterday that during the 2007 general election there were 150,000 persons registered. He noted that in the previous register there were 144,000 registrants.
“Our task is now to make sure that we get the word out more that we are registering and where we are going to be registering, so that the public is aware of what it is and what we are doing and where we are going to be located, so that they can respond. The task is to make sure have our teams are ready and to get them out in places where we can meet the people-the bulk of the population,”Bethel said.
The next general election is expected to be held in 2012.
Applicants for registration must be citizens of The Bahamas, of full age, not subject to any legal incapacity and must be ordinarily resident in the constituency for a period not less than three months immediately preceding the day of registration.
“People must bring proof of citizenship with them when they come to register. We are asking for a Bahamian passport. If people bring their birth certificate then we are likely to ask for other documents, because the birth certificate in and off itself may not be proof of citizenship for persons who were born since independence,”Bethel reported.