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Rules Should Not Cause Such Hurt

EDITOR, The Tribune.

AFTER having just voted, I sit in a state of total frustration to pen this letter.

I am the daughter of two hard working parents, the sister of a supportive group of siblings and an Attorney-at-Law who by no fault of my own, was born with one hand.

I attended St John's College from the tender age of four under the watchful eye of educators such as Ms Eva Dawkins and our principal, Mrs Arlene Nash-Ferguson, whom I believe made the special effort to ensure that I was never treated differently from other students.

I credit them all for helping me to become the independent and confident woman that I am today.

The attempt of my sister and I to park in the vicinity of St Anne's polling division was aborted as we were greeted by a sea of red, yellow and green flag adorned cars.

Determined to cast our ballots early, we parked at Mt Vernon and made the short trek up the hill.

The lines of people snaked across the school yard; luckily, we packed patience for the wait ahead.

Upon presenting my voter's card, I approached the desk to dip my left thumb in the jar of indelible ink. I observed the parliamentary worker reaching for an envelope and the Bible.

For the purpose of the electoral process, I have to declare that I am an "injured person".

The thought of uttering and even further; swearing before God that I am less of a person simply because I do not have a right thumb, caused time to stand still as I contemplated what was being asked of me, for the second time, having only voted once before in 2007.

In a matter of seconds, my mind cast to the summer when I was three years old and my second eldest sister spent the entire afternoon with a fuzzy tan teddy bear and a red satin ribbon teaching me to tie a bow.

I will never ever forget the sheer delight and pride on her face when I finally got it right: "You did it!!!!!"

She had no clue that this simple act changed my life forever - it tore to the ground the concept of limits and boundaries.

From that moment on, I knew that I could do anything. It took everything within me, not to ask for my voter's card, shred it on the spot and walk away.

My heart ached as I repeated after the poll worker, all because I firmly believe that "Your vote is your voice" and I wanted to be heard.

I have laboured my entire life with the singular purpose of being treated just like everyone else; it hurts beyond measure to be treated differently for such an important process as this.

I write this letter with the hopes of being heard loudly and clearly: The days of Parliamentary Declarations to attest to injury and what is perceived to be disability are over; the form is antiquated and makes no provisions for persons that are without the requisite limb as a result of a birth defect. It has no place in the modern electoral system and as such, its use must be abandoned.

I choose to break the silence surrounding this issue so that in 2017 when a young person of a similar disposition presents their left thumb to be inked, they are not made to feel like anything other than a registered Bahamian voter poised to mark their 'X'.

TERRELL STUART

LLB (Hons), TEP

Nassau,

May 8, 2012.

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