Complaints of slow process at advance poll for West Grand Bahama and Bimini by-election

PEOPLE wait in line in the rain to vote in the West Grand Bahama and Bimini by-election.
Photo: Vandyke Hepburn

PEOPLE wait in line in the rain to vote in the West Grand Bahama and Bimini by-election. Photo: Vandyke Hepburn


Tribune Staff Reporter


VOTERS arrived early and queued despite inclement weather yesterday as the advance poll took place for the West Grand Bahama and Bimini by-election.

A total of 460 people applied and were approved to vote in the advance poll on Wednesday.

Of that number, 342 were from Grand Bahama, and 118 from Bimini, according to the returning officer administrator Leonard Dames, Jr.

The advance poll opened at 8am at the Mount Zion Baptist Church for uniformed officers, the elderly, and disabled residents. Voters arrived as early as 7am and queued outside waiting for the doors to open.

Several police and defence force officers were on standby to maintain order and ensure all political parties adhered to the required 300ft distance from the polling station.

There were complaints that the process was slow. Some people had waited in line for close to three hours, such as Rejoinia Martin, who still had not voted by 10am.

“I came around 7:30am,” she said. “The process is too slow and it doesn’t seem as if they are moving at all. I get tired of standing up so I am going to sit down,” she complained.

Ms Martin said she is supporting the PLP’s candidate, Kingsley Smith. “I think they should give him a chance and see what he would do,” she said.

Muriel Leathen complained her feet hurt from standing up so long to vote.

“It was too long and my feet are burning; I was out here from after 7am,” she said.

Derek Williams arrived at 9am and left the polling station around noon. “The process was extremely slow and I think it could have been better,” he said.

Mr Williams is satisfied with the direction the country is going. “I feel good about it and I have no concerns at this time,” he said.

Princess Allen arrived at 8am and waited in the rain for two hours to vote in the advanced poll. “It was very rough; it is the first time I ever been through anything like that with the rain and waiting so long, but I thank God I am out.”

Patience Missick, a 93-year-old resident of West Grand Bahama, had no issues with the voting process.

She said she voted for Bishop Grant because she believed he would be a better representative for the area.

“If we get Grant I think we would go forward. It is time for a change,” Ms Missick said, “I do not think it is best to vote for somebody in Nassau, I think it is best if you have somebody who is right here rather than call to Nassau and they never call you back. I am well content with Bishop Grant.”

Voter Stacey Sands said she was not happy about the direction of the country.

“I am very much concerned as a young mother with all social ills and stuff like that,” she said. “I really think there is a drastic need for a change.”

The young woman said there are a lot of issues in West Grand Bahama that need to be addressed such as roads, streetlights, and unemployment.

Rosalie Williams, who is disabled, also believes it is time for a change.

“I don’t think the direction of the country is going good because we need a lot of stuff, and there are so many people that need jobs. I think it is time for a change.”

Sharell Lockhart, a resident of Seagrape, complained it was unacceptable having to wait outside in the rain with her disabled mother for more than an hour before a tent was provided.

She felt it was important to come out and vote.

“I think the government has not done a good job in the last two years because there are so many things that must be addressed in West Grand Bahama,” Ms Lockhart said.

She mentioned home repairs, roads, and social and NIB assistance for unemployed persons. Ms Lockhart expressed concern about the lack of vocational institutions in the constituency.

She thinks Bishop Grant can bring change to the area.

When asked about the long wait time, Mr Dames said that the number of elderly and disabled people who came in wheelchairs were accommodated first.

He noted the weather was also an issue as a tent and some chairs had to be brought in to provide shelter for voters which also further slowed the process.

Administrator Dames said they did their best to accommodate voters.

“We think it is a good test for what is about to happen next week, and whatever kinks we have, we will try our best to iron it out, and we will watch the weather and set up tents and chairs so there will be an easy flow for the electoral process.”

Mr Dames said the decision to have one polling station at Mount Zion Baptist Church was based on the number of persons who registered in the advance poll when it closed.

Mr Dames said a total of 6,015 people are registered in the West Grand Bahama and Bimini constituency.


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