NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government is finalizing its consultative process on voter registration and expects to soon advise the public of the recommended changes to the process, according to Minister of National Security Marvin Dames.
Dames, who has foreshadowed the introduction of a permanent voter register, did not confirm whether consensus had been reached on the matter.
During a recent interview with Eyewitness News, the minister said: “We were doing some consultations.
“We’re just about completed those consultations. And so, very shortly we should be concluding.
“As I said before, I think the times that we are living in dictates certainly as leaders for us to be smarter, more responsible.
“We’re having to take into consideration the health and safety of the persons around us and our own.
“And so, this is extremely important. COVID is not going anywhere anytime soon and so, as leaders, we have a responsibility to ensure that we do the right things for our people and ourselves, and our families.
“I mean we’re doing it now in health: the minister of health, the health professionals are constantly monitoring the challenges out there [with] respect to this pandemic and making recommendations as to the best way forward.”
Dames suggested that some decisions could be “uncomfortable”, but the government will determine how best to protect the Bahamian people.
Asked for details on the government’s considerations less than a year and a half from the next general election, Dames said: “Not at this time, but at the appropriate time we will.”
Dames was also asked when the government will advise the public on the voter registration process.
Acknowledging the “very small window” the government has, Dames said: “We should very shortly, I mean very shortly a decision should be made on which direction it will go, but that recommendation will be driven by the feedback we’re getting from these consultations.
“Right now, we’re quite impressed and pleased with what we are hearing from the Bahamian people and various sectors of our society.”
Dames said recommendations to that effect will continue to be welcomed.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays to the start of the national voters’ registration exercise.
It was originally scheduled for July.
Parliamentary Commissioner Philip Turner recommended to the government that it amend the Parliamentary Elections Act to replace the five-year voters’ register with a permanent or continuous register.