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Commissioner Hopes For New Year Rise In Registration Of Voters

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

VOTER registration is still sluggish, according to Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall, who expressed hope for surge in registration numbers early next year.

He noted that the country was now in the Christmas season, and as such, he did not expect to see much of an increase in the coming weeks.

“We’re just over 71,000 registered persons,” Mr Hall said, “it’s still sluggish going along. This is the Christmas season, we hope it picks up in the new year.

“It’s moving but not what we expect. It’s been the same pace.”

As of November 4, roughly 57,000 people had registered throughout the country, a number that was dwarfed by comparison to the same period before the 2012 general election.

At the same point in 2011, 134,000 persons were reported to have been registered across the country.

On December 5, Mr Hall said the register had expanded to some 67,000 registrants, but stopped short of clarifying where those new registrants were located.

Voter apathy has been a worrisome concern for some, like political analyst and professor of English at the University of The Bahamas Dr Ian Strachan who has speculated that the country could experience its lowest voter turnout in history.

Dr Strachan attributed this to the lack of faith in the current political system and “weak” alternatives to the current administration.

Voter apathy was said to be one of the reasons that prompted seven parliamentarians to seek Dr Hubert Minnis’ removal as leader of the Official Opposition in the House of Assembly last week, according to Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner, now the Official Opposition leader. That move was also inspired by the Free National Movement’s failure to capitalise on the Progressive Liberal Party’s mistakes, she said.

Fellow “rebel” MP Dr Andre Rollins insisted that last week’s shake-up was the catalyst for a revitalised electorate.

The Tribune spoke to Dr Rollins on the sidelines of Mrs Butler-Turner’s historic appointment as the first woman to lead the official Opposition.

“There is absolutely no doubt about it that people are now far more interested in the political future of this country than they were before Wednesday of last week,” Dr Rollins said on Sunday. “People had grown so despondent towards politics in this country because, quite frankly, it was stale.

“There was no real message coming from the opposition,” he added, “no policies being clearly articulated that all of the members of the opposition could speak to. So it appeared as if we really didn’t know what we were doing.”

The 2012 register marked the largest in the country’s history. At the closing of that register, April 2012, a little over 172,000 voters had been registered.

According records, 172,085 persons registered to vote.

Of that number 118,236 (68 per cent) registered in New Providence, 26,966 registered in Grand Bahama and 26,883 in the Family Islands.

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