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Legal Advice Sought Amid Low Voter Registration

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Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

AMID low voter registration, Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall is seeking legal advice on whether it would be lawful to automatically re-register people for the next election who had registered to vote in the 2012 general election.

If done, those people would not be required to reproduce documents like passports or birth certificates in order to be registered for the 2017 election.

This comes as members of the Constituencies Commission have started their work in preparation for the next election.

House Speaker Dr Kendal Major confirmed to The Tribune yesterday that the commission had its first meeting and that it will meet again on November 2.

Dr Major said he hopes the commission will complete its work and be ready to submit its report by the final week of November.

The Free National Movement’s representative on the committee, Peter Turnquest, confirmed that the group had its first meeting, saying yesterday: “We haven’t discussed boundary cuts or addition or the subtraction of seats. We simply discussed the registration process and how to get the numbers up.”

Only about 57,000 people have registered to vote so far, both Mr Turnquest and Mr Hall told The Tribune yesterday.

That’s less than the 100,000 or so people who had registered to vote by this point in 2011.

Mr Turnquest blamed the low numbers on the registration process itself, describing it as too burdensome.

Mr Hall, however, disagreed.

“We’re following the same law that has been applied this way since 1992,” he said.

Nonetheless, after discussing the issue with politicians, Mr Hall is awaiting advice from the director of legal affairs in the Office of the Attorney General as to whether the 2012 voter card files can be used to re-register people for the next election, potentially adding thousands to the voters’ list.

Although he is awaiting the written report about the matter, he seems to have taken the view that this would not be lawful.

“If they registered in 2012, what politicians want me to do, is accept the 2012 card for 2017. My position is, some of those people didn’t get their cards by producing a birth certificate or passport. Suppose some of those voters got their cards by deception?”

Some in the government insist Mr Hall has the power to extend the use of the 2012 voter cards and, where concerned about the legitimacy of some people’s citizenship, he can investigate those people by requiring them to go through the usual process of producing certain documents.

One government source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: “First time voters are a different thing, obviously, as they have to go through the entire process of producing necessary documents as it’s their first time registering. But for those already registered, the law entitles them to be registered again without having to go through the burdens. And if the parliamentary commissioner is sceptical about their status, he can investigate or other parties sceptical can follow the process and have those people investigated further. The law allows for that.”

Mr Hall, however, said the law puts the onus on residents to prove that they are who they claim to be.

“We can’t investigate every case and we can’t know who to be suspicious of so the voter must present ‘xyz’ so we can confirm who they are,” he said.

Comments

Romrok 4 years, 2 months ago

Well this is simple. After 45 years of the people being jerked around by the 2 crooked parties with the same promises since majority rule, the people are tired. Obviously this spend all the money cronyism, nationalistic foolishness has destroyed the heart and backs of the people, the bank account of the country, and the reward for hard work with stupid policies, with only the few in the houses of parliament and their friends and family living large, and will continue to live large for generations after our dollar is devalued and we fall to the bottom of the pile, like where Jamaica was and now are rocketing upwards from.

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Genus86 4 years, 2 months ago

Call election and we'll see how many persons sign up. That's all a lot of people waiting on.

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Sickened 4 years, 2 months ago

I'm waiting for a non-tarnished, dare I say - honest, person to vote for.

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B_I_D___ 4 years, 2 months ago

Ya gon be a while...got a snickers?

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sheeprunner12 4 years, 2 months ago

The Bahamian people are sending a message to the veteran and wannabe politicians ........ we are not interested in the quality of representation that you all are giving on behalf of us ...... the PLP and the FNM have taken their base support for granted for the past 50 years ........ and the politicians are seen as being corrupt and unresponsive to the needs of the voters (especially the millennials).......... Mr. Hall, that is why Bahamians are not registering

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licks2 4 years, 2 months ago

CALL THE ELECTION AND YINNA WILL SEE SMOKE. . .

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sheeprunner12 4 years, 2 months ago

That is the problem ......... the voters want to know when the election day will be and who is running, but the politicians want to see a 80% threshold voter register before seats are cut .......... we seem to be at a stalemate

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Zakary 4 years, 2 months ago

  • Only about 57,000 people have registered to vote so far

Low voter registration is worrying, but now when I really think about it, if past events are any indicator of future events (gambling referendum, gender equality referendum), then, these may be all the voters we need to completely eradicate this entire government.

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sheeprunner12 4 years, 2 months ago

Another reason ........... Bahamians know that the government's politicians use the volume of registered voters to gerrymander the seats in Parliament ............ the boundaries are shaped by where the voters live and not traditional community boundaries based on streets or island districts ........... The Constitution says that we should have a minimum of 38 seats and we need one extra seat to prevent the 1967 debacle ......... no more than that and then shared proportionately as they seem to be done now, but Nassau's seats are cut to assist favoured incumbents each election.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 2 months ago

The people don't need to register to vote because on election day they intend to march en masse to the edge of Nassau Harbour with Perry Christie, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Baltron Bethel, Shameless Shane and others like them hoisted high on their shoulders for the purpose of throwing all of these corrupt crooked scoundrels in the sea. The only open question is whether we need to first find out if any of them can't swim, but many would say that really shouldn't matter.

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sealice 4 years, 2 months ago

you forgot to add the FNM peeps and DNA peeps all culpable in this mess we call Bahamian politics

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Seaman 4 years, 2 months ago

Some heavy blocks would help........ You think?

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sealice 4 years, 2 months ago

cheaper to cut their stomachs open gets the sharks there to finish the job quicker too....

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SP 4 years, 2 months ago

............................ We Should Register To Vote For WHO & WHY? ................................

The PLP and FNM are not worth voting for!

43 years of false promises, lies, repression, cronyism, shared blatant corruption, friends family and lovers governance has obviously taken its toll.

The people do not SEE anyone worth voting for and maybe its for the best.

Lets NOT VOTE for any of these damn pirates and force a true government of the people, by the people, for the people!

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Victor 4 years, 2 months ago

Sherlyn Hall must be the worst Parliamentary Commissioner in history. After the horrible problems with reporting numbers in the last vote, he's been insisting everybody re-prove their citizenship. I don't recall any political party worrying about large numbers of people being registered to vote improperly in 2012 - they should just accept the 2012 cards as sufficient to re-register. I mean, I don't care - I think this will benefit the FNM as they are more likely to have other forms of ID handy, but it's just foolish. This man needs to be replaced before the next election.

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 2 months ago

Would be interesting to find out, of the 50,000+ registered how many voted in the gaming and gender referendums. If they haven't done that analysis already I'd be surprised. May be a reason why this automatic registration talk kicked in. As unpleasant as the registration process is, I don't see how you can automatically register anyone. People die and people move.

You could use another process as a vehicle, something like registering your car or paying insurance. Those processes "could" prove that you're "alive" and could be modified slightly to prove where you live. And of course they'd have to prove you are who you say you are. Not everyone has a car or insurance but a lot of people do so it could cut down on the numbers who had to manually register.

The only problem is we so crooked, we contaminate every system we touch. Why Bahamians have to scam everything?

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Required 4 years, 2 months ago

By even entertaining these thoughts, Hall has once more demonstrated that he is unfit to hold the office of Parliamentary Registrar, as this would open the door to the possibility of the biggest voter fraud in Bahamian history, and wouldn't even require the crooked politicians to pay voters a t-shirt, bottle of rum and $20...

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Zakary 4 years, 2 months ago

To be fair, this is something most likely fed to him by higher ups, to be entertained by public opinion for potential backlash. He’s already completely unfit, and needs to grow a damn spine already. His performance in the last referendum was abysmal and pathetic.

Automatic voter registration? I dare them to try it. All hell will break loose.

@ThisIsOurs - “If they haven't done that analysis already I'd be surprised.”

I too believe they have done some sort of analysis.

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Socrates 4 years, 2 months ago

Whats the motivation for this? If a person wants to vote, they will find the time to register. If they aren't bothered, then they may not register. As far as i know, its not mandatory to register or vote in the Bahamas so if people choose not too, so be it. WTF? Another scary initiative by government to force things on people.. slowly but surely heading toward totalitarian government.

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MassExodus 4 years, 2 months ago

Sad to say but people have given up, and are beyond caring.

When you are mistreated by both governments regularly what is the point?

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John 4 years, 2 months ago

Whether you intend to vote or not, it is important to register. At least you will be prepared for any eventualities that may arise during and after the elections. A voters card is one of the few things you can still get free in this country today and, despite the current political climate, it is one of the most powerful documents you could ever own. In all your frustrations remember not voting is also a vote, but not registering to vote is giving up the most powerful God given right you have in this country. If you are not registered the politicians will not even have to waste time and energy during their campaigns to try to win your vote. They have already struck you off as a person who does not count, a non entity: you have no voting franchise. Go register, if only for the hell of it! And let them try figure you out.

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John 4 years, 2 months ago

Pindling use to say something like, "if they give you fridge, take it. if they give you stove take it. And if they give you ham and turkey, take them too. And you still don't have to vote for them." In fact you still can not vote, if that is what you want.

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stislez 4 years, 2 months ago

Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall is seeking legal advice on whether it would be lawful to automatically re-register people for the next election who had registered to vote in the 2012 general election.

If dese niggaz cud do dat sh***ttttttt! What would happen if PLP win again and the statistics show YOU vote for dem but you neva even register.....LOOPHOLE! FREEVOTES! VOTES4SALE! GET DESE FREE VOTES WHILE SUPPLIES LAST! lol

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jackbnimble 4 years, 2 months ago

Frankly, I don't see anything or anyone worth voting for! I'm inclined to go with non-voters or waste my vote on the DNA or an Independent candidate just to say I voted.

This is the WORST election season ever. It's just more of the same no matter how you vote so I don't blame the darned people for not even bothering to register.

By now election fever should be kicking in but the only thing that's kicking in is despondency and depression. Our country is in a mess and there's no hope on the horizon to fix it just more jackaZZes wanting access to public funds to continue to screw it up!

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John 4 years, 2 months ago

Well Americans feel the same way and spiritually speaking all else I will say is 'don't be caught with no oil in your lamp." what if they bring another referendum and you are not registered?Go register!

Blo25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

New International Version (NIV)ckquote Mathew 25:1-13

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