Governor: no reason to postpone election
The Governor has confirmed that there is no reason to delay the General Election next month.
John Rankin said: “I am grateful to all those who have worked so hard to get the island back up and running quickly following Hurricane Paulette and do not see grounds under current circumstances to postpone the General Election on 1 October.”
He was speaking yesterday after Marc Bean, the leader of the new Free Democratic Movement, said before Hurricane Paulette hit the island that consideration should be given to pushing back the date of the poll.
The Governor has the power under election laws to postpone an election and call another one no more than 30 days later in the event of a hurricane or other significant events.
David Burt, the Premier, said yesterday: “We do not believe that there’s any need for the postponement.
“I think what this hurricane, and also the pandemic, has shown us is that Bermuda works best when we work together and we come across party lines to make sure that we take care of the divisions inside of our society.”
He said that “prolonged division” was the last thing the country needed.
Mr Burt added: “If there was any thought that a fair election could not be held, the Governor would act in his discretion.”
Some candidates were also concerned about Tropical Storm Teddy, which was about 1,600 miles from Bermuda yesterday but advanced forecasts showed it becoming a major hurricane before the weekend as it moves closer to the island.
The Bermuda Weather Service said there was “large uncertainty” about how close it could get.
Mr Bean said yesterday that he was “very grateful” that the country was “relatively unscathed” by Monday’s hurricane.
He added: “That’s something to be grateful of and give thanks for but it also highlights the risk of having elections during hurricane season.”
But Mr Bean, who will face the Progressive Labour Party’s Kathy Lynn Simmons and Jeff Sousa, of the One Bermuda Alliance, in Sandys North, pointed out the potential impact of Atlantic storms such as Teddy was unknown.
He said that was why the FDM had said that it would be “wise” for the Governor to “seriously consider making adjustments or postponing the election”.
Mr Bean added: “This was prior to Paulette coming and going.
“Now, because it has come and gone still doesn’t negate from the fact that the Governor should seriously consider these options.”
He said the storm was “just an added disruption to the lives of the people of this country”.
Mr Bean asked the Governor and the Government on Saturday to make sure there were “contingency measures in place to mitigate the potential impact” of Hurricane Paulette on administration of the election.
He added then: “Given the immediate feedback from potential voters and the prevailing uncertainty of the emergency preparations, the FDM believes it is more than reasonable to consider postponing the General Election date in order to give the candidates and the people of Bermuda a proper time frame to exercise their right to vote.”
Mr Bean said yesterday: “Before the election was called the people of this country have been suffering.
“Mental health issues have increased, physical health issues have increased during this Covid lockdown.”
He added: “Even before a hurricane, persons are still suffering from the fact that we haven’t been able to give proper funerals to our loved ones who have passed over the last few days and weeks.
“We haven’t been able to enjoy weddings.
“We haven’t been able to do a lot of things socially that actually are the real glue with us as a people, keeps our culture and everything ticking over.
“All that stress has been added to by the political desires of a small handful of elite.”
The FDM released its policy on education reform earlier this month and Mr Bean said that another policy was expected to be announced today or tomorrow.
Advance polls for the election were to begin today and were extended to Saturday after the hurricane delayed their start by two days.
Nicky Gurret, the OBA candidate for Sandys South Central, said: “Calling an election during hurricane season when my constituents are already dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and trying to cope with such a stressful time is nonsensical and adds stress to an already stressful situation we are all living in.”
Ms Gurret, who will face the PLP’s Kim Wilson and Eugene Dean of the FDM, highlighted that the coronavirus, the hurricane and concern about Tropical Storm Teddy meant people had “really little time to engage in an election”.
An OBA spokesman said that the party’s election platform would be released “when we consider it appropriate to do so”.
The spokesman said that there was still sufficient time for voters to deliberate policies and consider who they will support at the polls.
He said: “Bermudians are very well informed people as it is.
“There is enough time, as they know that the One Bermuda Alliance is the best equipped party to lead Bermuda away from the Category 5 economic hurricane that is fast approaching.
“However, storm-related issues are causing massive inconvenience.”
A spokeswoman for the PLP was unable to say when the party’s election platform would be unveiled.
The spokeswoman said: “When it is released, all media will be informed as per normal.”
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