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An electoral solution

April 25, 2012

Dear Sir,

I read with interest your ‘Report from the House’ of April 24, 2012 written by Jonathan Bell and Tim Smith which covered the discussions in Parliament about changes the Government is making via the passing of the Parliamentary Election Amendment Act, 2012. I think most voters would agree that any amendments to our present voting system that creates a more fair and representative election result is beneficial for the Island and its people. A fair voting system should ensure a fair result that all parties and voters can respect and not moan or complain about after the fact.

The issue of offering the vote to those who are abroad via absentee balloting or postal vote is an important one and it is a pity the Progressive Labour Party Government has not pursued a strategy to correct this anomaly. The Government could have claimed a small victory had they implemented this option to voters and I don’t believe for a minute that concerns raised about voting fraud or voting privacy are relevant. The technology available today would prevent this from occurring. I also don’t understand why Members of Parliament always travel down memory lane as they try to defend their decisions today. The voters don’t care about why previous Governments didn’t do certain things in the past like provide for absentee ballots — what we care about is fixing a faulty system now.

I was also very surprised to read Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess’ statement that under previous election systems “you could get 45 percent of the vote and win the election”. This is absolutely false. No matter how imperfect Bermuda’s past election process was, there was never a Government formed that did not win a majority of the popular vote, whether United Bermuda Party or PLP Governments. The Deputy Premier ought to retract this statement and I am surprised that neither

The Royal Gazette nor the Opposition corrected him at the time.

As we all know, the various constituencies in Bermuda do return MPs by either large or minuscule margins and these results can lead to either political party being over or under represented in Parliament. It happened under previous administrations and it is still happening today under the PLP. The question the voters need to ask is, “is this system creating better government?”. I think we know the answer to that question. There is no doubt that a more fair and representative governing system for Bermuda would be a model that adopts some form of proportional representation, so parties that win 55 percent of the vote can expect to have 55 percent of the seats in Parliament. Close election results should be better for the people of Bermuda as both parties will be forced to work together and compromise to find solutions to our issues rather than Government ramming policies and legislation down our throats because they have a large majority and can do so.

The next election will be a very interesting one from my perspective because for the first time in Bermuda’s history we could see a Government formed which does not command the popular vote. This is our voting paradox based on the present “imperfect voting system”. I leave it to the voters to decide which political party wins our trust at the upcoming polls. Maybe then we will see meaningful change.

ALLAN D MARSHALL

St George’s

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Published April 28, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated April 28, 2012 at 9:12 am)

An electoral solution

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