‘Rush to register’
After resuming voter registration for the upcoming general election following the holiday break, the Parliamentary Registration Department has observed a “rush of people”, pushing its registration numbers from around 73,000 to 75,000 in the last couple of days.
Although this only represents approximately 44 percent of eligible voters, officials at the department remain that the trend will continue, noting that the daily registration numbers have picked up substantively.
Geoffrey McPhee of the department said, “We expect that to go up based on what we have been seeing that last two days.
“There is going to be an increase. We will have to look at that and we do not want to speak to quickly because we know there are persons who are on break between the Christmas and new year, but we will see if the trend continues in the new year.
“At that point, we will be able to give a definitive answer as to whether or not the public sentiment is starting to change.”
The Nassau Guardian has published a series of articles in recent weeks highlighting voter registration lagging behind what was recorded ahead of the 2012 general election.
Five years ago, there were approximately 134,000 registered voters.
Ultimately, just over 172,000 people registered to vote in the last general election.
In November, Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hal said that there is “voter apathy throughout the country”.
Since October, there has been a greater call from members of the government, the Official Opposition and civil society for Bahamians to register.
While in Exuma, Acklins and Grand Bahama recently, Prime Minister Perry Christie made it abundantly clear that in the New Year “things will go fast and furious” and people should get registered now.
The department resumed registration on Wednesday.
McPhee opined that the combined effort of the parliamentary commissioner and his appeals, the department’s work, and calls from the political directorate have spurred increased registration.
“We have definitely noticed an increase of viewer traffic on our websites and the phone calls have increased here to us as well,” said McPhee, who added new revising officers are being trained to handle what is anticipated to be a rush of voter registration.
In addition to expanding its staff, the department also plans to begin registering at a number of schools during the evening hours, in hopes that more accessibility will improve the numbers.
McPhee said the department will publish all new registration locations and their new opening hours early in the New Year.