Govt moving forward with permanent register

The government intends to table a bill proposing the introduction of a permanent voter register by next week, according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis. 

“This bill would keep the names on the register to be permanent and only new names are added,” Minnis said.

“At the same time, throughout the year, you can purge the register in terms of those individuals who have died or have moved to some other destination outside the country, live abroad, etc. You’ll have a permanent register and just continuous additions.

“It will also give us an opportunity, the Bahamian populace, an opportunity to continue an assessment of the list and you won’t have any aberrant additions.” 

Minnis added that if the bill is not tabled this week, it will be “definitely by next week”.

“But, I’m hoping that we’ll be able to table it on Wednesday.”

The current register is set to expire in July 2021, but last month, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said officials were still in the consultation phase as it relates to a permanent register.

Leading up to the 2017 election, there was controversy over the state of the voter register. Hundreds of discrepancies were found before the register was certified, including the duplication of names and incorrectly recorded birth dates.

Following its electoral observation mission to The Bahamas, the Organization of American States (OAS) said, “The mission observed that electoral procedures in The Bahamas are currently developed in a largely manual fashion, including the registration process and the issuance of the voter’s card, and recommended The Bahamas consider modernizing its processes to improve efficiency and security and reduce the level of human error.”

Parliamentary Commissioner Philip Turner has said that if a decision is made to use a new register, it could be a challenge.

“If we were to go with the permanent register, then the current register, if it were to go into the permanent register, then we are well on our way,” he said.

“Now, if they were to follow the status quo and move into a new register as the law currently pertains, then certainly, the timeline would be a challenge.

“But we feel that, based on…if we were to go in that direction and when we would begin, then certainly, that would impact our end results.”

Voter registration for a new register would have ordinarily started five months ago.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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