As The Bahamas continues to grapple with the third wave of COVID-19 infections and most recently a surge in cases, Acting Parliamentary Commissioner Lavado Duncanson said his team is working to ensure that safety measures are in place when Bahamians vote in the next election.
In addition to the current measures in place, including social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand sanitizing, Duncanson said the fact that more people are eligible to vote in the advanced poll will go a long way in reducing the number of people who have to vote on election day.
He noted that people 65 and over are now eligible to apply to vote in the advanced poll and currently some 26,000 people over 65 are on the register.
“One of these constituents have over 1,000 persons who are 65 and over …” he said while appearing as a guest on the Our News talkshow “On the Record” with host Jerome Sawyer yesterday.
“During the advanced poll, normally we would process say about 450 persons within that 10-hour interval.
“If we have over 1,000 persons 65 and over who are eligible to vote during the advanced poll, that does not include the uniformed personnel, does not include those persons who may be ill or pregnant who want to vote during the advanced poll.
“What we are seeking to do is to ensure that we separate, we segment, we break up the actual polling stations in such a way where we can accommodate individuals.
“The advanced poll can prove to be a beneficial opportunity, especially for those persons 65 and over so that we can assist with reducing the number of persons on election day.”
Duncanson said there will be multiple sites for people to vote at during the advanced poll.
The idea, he said, is to space out voters so that they don’t find themselves having to interact with too many people.
The number of new COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations have soared in recent weeks.
There have been over 1,800 new cases reported this month and hospitalizations jumped well beyond 100.
Health officials said the hospitals are beyond capacity and that healthcare workers are tired.
Duncanson said he will meet with political parties vying in the next election to explain what the Parliamentary Registration Department is doing.
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames, who is the minister responsible for elections, said that in excess of 3,000 people took part in the advanced poll in 2017.
He said he expects nearly 40,000 people to take part in the advanced poll for the next election.
Due to an amendment to the Parliamentary Elections Act, people over 65 are now eligible to take part in the advanced poll.
During the 2017 advanced poll, many people were forced to wait up to five hours to vote and others were prevented from voting because their names were not on the register.
Voting only took place at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium.