FAR FROM HOME: No special voting consideration for displaced storm victims

FAR FROM HOME: No special voting consideration for displaced storm victims
Hundreds of Hurricane Dorian survivors wait in Marsh Harbour to be evacuated in the aftermath of the storm in this Friday, Sept 6, 2019 photo. (AP PHOTO/GONZALO GAUDENZI)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — National Security Minister Marvin Dames told reporters today that displaced storm victims must follow the law when it comes to registering to vote in the next general election.

Hundreds of families were displaced as a result of Hurricane Dorian in September 2019.

Many of them have not returned to their homes due to the sluggish pace of recovery and the compounded impact of COVID-19.

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames. (FILE PHOTO)

When asked whether there was any special consideration for storm victims, Dames said: “The law is pretty clear on that now, and we can’t circumvent the law. The law is really clear on persons who would have been out of their jurisdiction… If and until the law is changed, we have to abide by the law.”

Last week, Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie, who also serves as chair of the Constituencies Commission, told Eyewitness News the commission will make a determination as early as this week on whether displaced storm victims will be allowed to choose whether they vote in the area of where they permanently resided in the next general election.

Moultrie indicated that would be the “preferred situation”.

According to the Parliamentary Registration Act, a resident is entitled to be registered as a voter in a constituency if they are living there, and have been living there for a period of three months.

If that resident has moved to another constituency for three months or more, but less than six months, he or she can choose which constituency to vote in.

Last year, Central and South Abaco MP James Albury told Eyewitness News he hoped displaced Abaconians on New Providence, Eleuthera and other islands would get special voting consideration — however, he admitted at the time he was not sure how it would work.

Outside Cabinet today, Dames said: “I’m not going to speak to that any further. Right now, there are laws on the books as to how anyone being out of their constituency for a specified period, how they ought to, what they are entitled to do or what they’re supposed to do.

“I can’t begin this process of speculating and making assumptions and misleading persons.

“Right now, we have laws that govern how we ought to conduct ourselves and we all have to comply with the law; that’s why we create laws.”

About Ava Turnquest

Ava Turnquest is the head of the Digital Department at Eyewitness News. Her most notable beat coverage spans but is not limited to politics, immigration and human rights, with a focus especially on minority groups. In 2018, she was nominated by the Bahamas Press Club for “The Eric Wilmott Award for Investigative Journalism”. Ava is deeply motivated by her passion about the role of fourth estate, and uses her pen to inform, educate and sensitize the public.