The Parliamentary Registration Department was swarmed with people on Tuesday morning.
By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
CHAOS erupted in the Parliamentary Registration Department yesterday after more than 100 persons were told it was too late for them to register to vote for the May 7 general elections.
Police were called to control the crowd, as officials at the department attempted to explain why the register had been closed.
Parliamentary Commissioner Errol Bethel said the register was officially closed on Thursday at 5pm and no one else can be added.
"All those people came to register and we had to explain to them that they could no longer register because the House of Assembly was about to be dissolved. Some of them still insisted to go through the process though knowing they could not get a voters card. You have to register a least one business day before the Parliament is dissolved in order to be eligible to vote," he said.
"We are still, however, issuing voters cards. We had two long lines all day with people picking up their cards. We expected it to happen and we hope more people come, we have at least 20,000 cards in New Providence that have not yet been picked up."
Mr Bethel said while you can still vote once you are registered without the voters card, having it would make the process "much easier."
"We are encouraging people to pick up their cards. It has their polling divisions as well as their constituency name on it so when we announce which polling division is attached to what constituency the voter will know where to go. It eliminates a lot of confusion. You would also want to get it to make sure all the information is correct like the street name and such," he said.
"We can make minor changes to the cards but we cannot transfer constituencies, so whatever constituency you are registered in now is where you will have to vote. As for those registering overseas that has also stopped. The numbers weren't that great but we expected that because most people registered during the summer or the Christmas. Now if you did register overseas but want to vote home you still have about four to five days to do so."
According to Mr Bethel, 172,085 persons have registered to vote in the upcoming elections. Of that number 118,236 or 68 per cent registered in New Providence, 26,966 registered in Grand Bahama and 26,883 in the Family Islands.
More people registered in North Abaco than any other Family Island constituency with 4,424 registered voters. Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island and Acklins had the least number of registered voters with a combined total of 1,369.
In New Providence, the average number of registered voters per constituency was 4,500. Bain and Grants Town had the most registered voters with 5,972 and Elizabeth had the least with 4,759.
Mr Bethel said with over 170,000 persons registered to vote this is the largest voter register in the history of elections in the Bahamas.
In the last election, approximately 150,000 voters registered.