Potential voters should register soon
The Free National Movement (FNM) administration is finishing its parliamentary agenda and passing the legislation needed to keep government functioning. Members debated a bundle of financial bills yesterday. With the boundaries report completed and few other major matters to be brought to Parliament, when the House of Assembly adjourns for Christmas, there will likely be few sessions left before Parliament is dissolved by order of the prime minister and a general election is called.
The unregistered should take this opportunity to join the voters’ list. There is little time left to do so. Those not registered before Parliament is dissolved will not be able to vote.
We have said before that no one should feel pressured to vote, but all eligible voters should register in order to ensure they at least have the option to vote on Election Day.
Much will happen in the weeks and months to come that will affect your perception of the parties and the political process. Information may be revealed, changing your impression of a politician; a new candidate you like may enter the race; a party might bring forward a policy position you think necessary and urgent.
All of these things could happen suddenly. If you are not registered, you will not be able to make your vote count. It does not hurt to register.
It is now a cliché to say “every vote counts”. But it is true.
In the February 2010 Elizabeth by-election, Dr. Duane Sands was ahead the night of the election by one vote; after the recount Dr. Sands was up two votes; after the Elizabeth Election Court case, Ryan Pinder won by three votes. Every vote will count in many constituencies in 2012 – especially in New Providence.
With the FNM winning just under 50 percent of the vote in the 2007 general election and it only defeating the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) by just under 4,000 votes, the Bahamian electorate has been closely divided between the two parties for the past five years.
In this environment, it is reasonable to suggest that the next government of The Bahamas will be decided on slim margins in New Providence swing seats.
This election another party is in the contest – the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) led by Branville McCartney. Bahamians will have the major parties, some marginal groups and numerous independents to choose from.
This is more than the people of Cuba can choose from. This is more than the people of North Korea can choose from. This is more than the people of Iran can choose from. We must take seriously the freedom to choose our leaders and at least consider voting.
Sometimes, it is fine to just choose the best of a weak group of prospects. Casting a vote for a PLP, FNM or DNA does not mean that you support the party. It might just mean that you think the party, the candidate or its leader is the best of the group. That person may not be your ideal candidate, but he may be good enough to earn your vote.
Too many in modern western democracies are too busy having a good time to think about issues of governance. The latest smart phone, top, piece of jewelry or song occupy the focus of too many people. The leaders of a country directly influence if there is prosperity or hardship; if there are safe communities or if there is fear; if there is freedom or if there is tyranny.
We must all watch the process. We are the guardians of our own freedoms. We must be sure that the people who work for us are capable and qualified.
An election nears.