LESSONS LEARNED: General election post-mortem underway

LESSONS LEARNED: General election post-mortem underway
Voters in the Elizabeth, St Annes and Yamacraw constituencies wait in line to vote in the advance poll at Doris Johnson High School on Thursday, September 9, 2021. (BIS/PATRICK HANNA)

Political parties and others invited to present concerns and recommendations of election procedures

No date set for local govt elections as yet

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Just over a month since The Bahamas held its 2021 General Election, officials have advised that a post-mortem is still underway to determine the lessons learned and the necessary changes needed for the way forward.

Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe, Acting Parliamentary Commissioner Lavado Duncanson and a delegation toured the Parliamentary Registration Department (PRD) yesterday.

Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe.

Speaking to reporters following the tour, Munroe noted that he has had meetings with the department; reviewed some of its digitization progress and production counterfoils; and discussed preparations for the upcoming local government and school board elections.

He said he has invited members of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and Free National Movement (FNM) to raise issues and concerns observed during the general election and extended that invitation to other groupings to send comments or critiques so they can also be considered.

Munroe said there are currently ongoing discussions to implement a more durable voting card, noting that a biometric card is still being looked at as was being considered under the Minnis administration.

He could not indicate whether the Davis administration will move on any form of digital voting, noting that it is a matter of government policy that requires extensive consultation.

There was ongoing concern in the days leading up to the polls on whether eligible voters who have been quarantined or isolated in the midst of the pandemic would be allowed to vote.

While no specific policy was announced, officials advised on the day of advance polls that those individuals would not be prohibited once they presented themselves to vote.


Awaiting recommendations

Acting Parliamentary Commissioner Lavado Duncanson.

Duncanson noted that PRD officials have met with returning officers and continue to hold internal meetings while awaiting final reports from various overseas missions that observed the election.

He said the department has already received recommendations that are being compiled that will be taken into consideration in an effort to improve the overall system moving forward.

Duncanson said among those recommendations was the need to enhance public education to inform the public of what to expect on an election day, as well as making accommodations for large crowds on polling days.

He noted that many of the lessons learned came from the handling of the advance polls, which saw thousands of early voters on New Providence and Grand Bahama meet a myriad of procedural issues in sweltering heat that frustrated the process.

Duncanson said while these issues were addressed during the September 16 polls, more emphasis could have been placed on accommodating individuals in various capacities.

“There were some lessons learned — best practices that we will seek to continue to utilize going forward,” he said.

As for the local government elections, the PRD head said no date has been set as yet but the department is working closely with the Department of Local Government on the matter.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.