Gomez: Confirm within 36 hours you will not prevent any registered voter who is quarantined or COVID-positive from voting or face litigation
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) on Monday threatened legal action against the government should registered voters in quarantine or isolation not be allowed to vote.
In a letter addressed to Parliamentary Commissioner Lavado Duncanson, QC Damian Gomez pointed to recent comments made by National Security Minister Marvin Dames surrounding the matter and labeled the comments as a threat to the right of citizens to vote.
Gomez, who said he was acting on behalf of PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis and the party, warned that the letter is in anticipation of litigation and will be drawn to the court’s attention.
“We are alarmed that you may be influenced by the ‘outgoing administration’ to prevent Bahamian citizens who are duly registered in accordance with the Parliamentary Elections Act…from casting their respective votes notwithstanding that they are not suffering from any legal incapacity as defined in section 10 of the Parliamentary Elections Act…” Gomez wrote.
“To allay our clients’ fears, we write to request that you confirm within 36 hours that you will not prevent any registered voter from casting his or her ballot on the basis that he or she is quarantined or on the basis that he or she is suffering from COVID-19.
“We further request that you indicate what steps have been taken to ensure that such persons who are quarantined or persons suffering from COVID-19 may cast their respective ballots in a facility that is safe to other members of the electorate.”
Gomez said if no steps are taken, Duncanson must provide an explanation for “such failure”.
The veteran attorney critiqued the prime minister’s decision to ring the bell, insisting that the election could have been called after the government had managed to contain and reduce the rate and extent of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
“We are hopeful that the timing of the general election was not motivated by a political intention to deprive any registered voter from voting,” Gomez said.
He pointed to other jurisdictions such as the Turks and Caicos Islands and Jamaica, which conducted general elections during the COVID-19 pandemic and enabled voters who are either in quarantine or infected with COVID-19 to vote without endangering others.
“Your response to this written request is anticipated to contribute to the fairness of the conduct of the general election on the 16th September, 2021,” he added.
Gomez said it is Duncanson’s statutory duty to carry out the requirements of the Parliamentary Elections Act regarding the holding of free and fair elections.
“Democracy is a fragile flower whose delicate and diligent care is balanced in your patriotic hands. It is therefore hoped that litigation may be avoided,” Gomez said.
“Should our appeal to your sense of patriotism fail, we shall proceed with the expeditious prosecution of court proceedings on behalf of our clients without further reference to you.”