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First Votes Under Guard To Ensure Ballot's Security

Delores Ingraham and Bernadette Christie vote on Tuesday.

Delores Ingraham and Bernadette Christie vote on Tuesday.

By SANCHESKA BROWN

Tribune Staff Reporter

sbrown@tribunemedia.net

BALLOTS from advanced polling stations are now locked away under heavy police guard, Parliamentary Commissioner Errol Bethel said yesterday.

More than 7,000 people took part in the advanced poll at the Kendall G L Isaacs Gymnasium and the College of the Bahamas.

Mr Bethel said despite the large turnout and the bad weather, the voting process went relatively smoothly.

He said the ballots, which will not be counted until election day, May 7, will be secured at a undisclosed location.

"Only a few people will know where they are being kept and I am the only one who will have a key," he said.

"The ballots will be guarded 24 hours by police officers until they once again moved by the commissioner and taken to a certain polling division. Once there, the parliamentary commissioner will hand the key to the presiding officer, who will open it in front of everyone there. They will then be counted and added to the votes. The ballots are not counted before elections and the boxes will not be opened until May 7."

Mr Bethel said the overseas voting was a little slower than expected as everyone who registered did not vote.

Advanced voters who registered overseas but were not able to take part yesterday will not be eligible to vote on May 7. However advanced voters in New Providence and the family islands who did not vote will still be able to vote.

Mr Bethel said the same rules applied to yesterday's advanced poll as that of election day.

"Each candidate is allowed six agents at the polling stations, three on the inside and three on the outside. Everyone else, including party supporters must be 100 yards away. If you are taking about the gym and the COB that means the tents they have set up should be in the road," he said.

"Because it was raining the police are allowed to use their discretion. I am not sure what they did. All liquor stores within a five mile radius are also supposed to be closed until the polls are closed. It was just like a regular election day and we hope all the rules were followed."

More then 7,800 people registered to take part in yesterdays advanced poll. Voters included persons scheduled for medical care, government workers, uniformed officers, those working at the polls on May 7 and students enrolled abroad.

In the case of ballots from abroad and the family islands, Mr Bethel said they will be flown to New Providence and kept in the same location as the ballots collected in the capital.

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