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General Election cost almost $700,000

Wayne Furbert minister for the Cabinet Office (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Last month's General Election cost the taxpayer almost $700,000, it has been revealed.

But Wayne Furbert, the Cabinet Office minister, highlighted that the figure was much less than critics had predicted after Premier David Burt had called the snap poll.

Mr Burt came under fire when he announced in August that the country would go to the polls in October. He did not have to call an election until 2022.

The Premier said he had made the decision to save taxpayers’ money – by avoiding by-elections anticipated with the retirement of several sitting MPs.

Mr Burt said at the time: “Do we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on three, four, five or more by-elections and then have to pay for a General Election?"

“Or, is it more financially prudent to just go ahead and call a General Election and allow those MPs who wish to retire the opportunity to do so? I chose the option that saves Bermudian taxpayers money.”

But Craig Cannonier, then the Opposition leader, questioned the Premier's motives and predicted that a General Election could cost in excess of $1 million.

He also pointed out that the public's health would be put at risk if an election was held during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Cannonier added: “After complaining about spending $30,000 on a by-election, the Premier now wants to spend over $1 million on a General Election.”

Mr Furbert, speaking at last Friday’s session of the House of Assembly, said: "The cost of the General Election 2020 was $692,698. This compares to the $759,511 spent on the General Election of 2017.

"You would recall that the former Leader of the OBA, Craig Cannonier said that it is an insult that the Premier would contrive to underestimate our collective intelligence by trying to convince us that he is calling a $1 million election to save the country money.

“The Honourable Member Cannonier also said as Covid cases reach double figures again, the Premier was asking us to jeopardise our health.

"Let me inform this Honourable House that not only did the Government through the Parliamentary Registrar’s Office keep its citizens safe by taking meticulous precautionary measures during the election, it did not spend $1 million in doing so."

Mr Furbert said that 540 staff were employed by Government on election day including 272 returning and presiding officers and 140 police officers.

A total of 25,760 people cast their vote and 4,411 voters casting their ballot in the advanced poll.

Mr Furbert added: "Despite the threat and health risks posed by Covid-19, the Parliamentary Registrar, Ms Tenia Woolridge, and her entire team delivered a safe, seamless and secure electoral process for the electorate.

"Elections, both the advanced polls and the general poll, were very successfully conducted and enormous credit for this has to be given to the Parliamentary Registrar’s Office."

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Published November 16, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated November 16, 2020 at 3:56 pm)

General Election cost almost $700,000

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