“MOST UNCONSTITUTIONAL”: Speaker slams govt over lack of policy for quarantined voters

“MOST UNCONSTITUTIONAL”: Speaker slams govt over lack of policy for quarantined voters
(FILE)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie said yesterday that while he respects the health authorities and their views on the management of the coronavirus pandemic, the law has no provisions to deny registered voters the right to vote.

“I don’t think any person should be disenfranchised who is willing and able to go and vote because how are you going to distinguish between a quarantined person who may test negative and a vaccinated who may test positive?” Moultrie said when contacted for comment.

“You just have no knowledge of that person’s situation in terms of them being negative or positive.

Halson Moultrie.

“I think it would be discriminatory and most unconstitutional; very undemocratic to deny a registered person the right to vote because they have been quarantined.”

He added: “The fact that you are in quarantine doesn’t mean you are COVID-positive.

“That is why I was calling for the government to establish some sort of protocol.

“If they establish a protocol that those persons in quarantine need to be tested prior to voting, and if they test positive then there is some other mechanism in place for them to be able vote.

“The government called this election in the midst of this pandemic, not the people.

“So, the government needs to find a way to accommodate the needs of the people so they can participate in the process.”

On Tuesday, Minister of Health Renward Wells said the government was still discussing the matter.

Minister of Health Renward Wells.

Yesterday, Moultrie said the lack of government response and definitive answers or laying out a policy is “clear evidence, in my estimation, that they had no plan when this snap election was called”.

“I hate to believe that is the design and purpose of the government; to try to succeed at this election through fraudulent means, but one could hardly come to any other conclusion when the government is refusing to indicate what measures they’re going to put in place to accommodate persons so that — first of all, if you dip your finger in that ink, what is the guarantee then for the person who is COVID-negative and who is not in quarantine that ink has not been contaminated by someone who may be positive but not tested?” he said.

“You see, all of these questions are unanswered and the government needs to answer these questions because the government created this situation.”

Up to Monday, there were 3,396 active cases of COVID-19.

At last report, another 3,000-plus people were in quarantine in addition to those positive cases.

It remains unclear how many of those more than 6,000 people will be out of quarantine or considered recovered over the coming days, as this depends on the date of exposure or the date of confirmed infection.

Under section 10 of the Parliamentary Elections Act, any person who is serving a prison sentence, under sentence of death or deemed to be a “lunatic or of unsound mind by virtue of finding or declaration” shall be disqualified from registering as a voter and voting.