Early Voter Registration Drive To Begin

NASSAU, The Bahamas — Registration Centres will be opened at convenient locations throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas beginning Monday, October 4, 2010, as preparation of the new Voter Register begins, Parliamentary Commissioner Errol Bethel said Tuesday.

The simultaneous opening of multiple centres in New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands will facilitate an early National Voter Registration Drive.

New Providence locations will include the Parliamentary Registration Department (Farrington Road); Mall at Marathon, Town Centre Mall, General Post Office (East Hill Street) and the Elizabeth Estates, South Beach and Flamingo Gardens Post Offices.

Grand Bahama locations include the Parliamentary Registration Department, National Insurance Building (Freeport), the Administrator’s Office, Eight Mile Rock, and the Administrator’s Office in High Rock.

Registration of voters will take place at the Administrator’s Office in the various Family Islands. Registration Centres will be opened from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Evening registration is scheduled to commence at a later date.

Parliamentary Commissioner Bethel said the current Register, which came into force in April, 2007, is due to expire “on its anniversary date in 2012” or on an earlier date that may be appointed by the Governor-General.

Law requires the Parliamentary Commissioner to prepare a Register in Readiness (New Register) every five years to replace the Current Register when it expires. To accommodate this process, Mr. Bethel said Registration Centres will be opened throughout the country to “accommodate qualified persons who wish to register.”

“Bahamians should be aware the in order to be able to vote when the time comes, they must be registered,” Mr. Bethel said.

The Parliamentary Commissioner said the law is “very clear” in defining those persons qualified to register to vote.

Applicants for registration, he said, must be citizens of The Bahamas of full age and 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.

Commissioner Bethel said while Section 19 of the Parliamentary Elections Act provides for the consideration of other documents – among them baptismal certificates or such reasonable evidence whether documentary or otherwise as the Revising Officer shall consider to prove that the applicant is qualified to be registered and is not already registered – persons applying for registration must present a valid Bahamian passport or a birth certificate as proof of citizenship.

He said a valid Bahamian passport will serve as the “principal document” that will be accepted for registration.

“If a person does not have a valid passport, he/she should present a birth certificate,” Mr. Bethel said.

“Please bear in mind the fact that all documents that people may present do not prove citizenship,” Mr. Bethel continued, “documents such as the old Voter’s card, an affidavit, a Baptismal Certificate, or a Certificate of Identity does not prove citizenship. Even the Birth Certificate in some instances does not prove citizenship.”

The Parliamentary Commissioner said officials at the Parliamentary Registration Department have developed a number of initiatives to ensure a smooth, effective process.

“The public is reminded that not only is it the right of every eligible citizen to vote, it should be taken as a most important civic obligation,” the Parliamentary Commissioner said.

“In order to exercise this right to vote and to meet this most important civic obligation, however, eligible persons have to register. I therefore invite early participation in the National Voter Registration Drive,” Mr. Bethel added.

By Matt Maura
Bahamas Information Services