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Preparing for success in General Election

Sharing information: PLP delegates attending the Parliamentary Registry information session at BUEI

Prior preparation prevents poor performance.

Anyone who has served in the Royal Bermuda Regiment would have been indoctrinated in the above axiom, the simple premise being that the more one prepares, the better the performance and the results.

Over the past few years, Parliamentary Registrar Tenia Woolridge and her dedicated staff have been dutifully preparing themselves, political parties and the general public for the next General Election.

As a part of these efforts, they have recently held a series of in-depth information sessions to help to disseminate pertinent information to the masses. One such session was held on Saturday at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute.

This session was unique, as it was geared specifically to Members of Parliament, senators and officers, and it required that persons of both political parties come together to be presented with information. Perhaps a novel idea, yet it provided a brief “kumbaya” moment between Bermuda’s political tribes.

In my estimation, there were roughly 70 in attendance, representing both parties.

After signing in, we were ushered into the theatre area where Mr Woolridge introduced herself and her staff: Michael Smith, Assistant Parliamentary Registrar; Rownay Kerr, administrative officer; Sheila Jones, registration officer; and Kandrea Romaine, field registration officer.

She then went on to discuss a few pertinent projects that they have been working on to help to evolve the processes of registering to vote and voting in general.

One initiative that stood out was the revelation that, for the first time in Bermuda’s history, persons who are blind or sight-impaired will have specialised Braille equipment available for them to cast their ballots. This will negate them needing other persons in the polling booth with them and will ensure that their political choices remain confidential.

Another significant project that this department has been working on is absentee ballots and online voting. To qualify for absentee voting, the Parliamentary Registrar advised that one must fall into one of three categories:

• Student abroad in university

• Persons seconded abroad for their companies

• Persons away for medical reasons

As per the information provided at this session, voting will be conducted online via highly secured servers. The timeline for implementation was as follows:

• The Parliamentary Act will be debated and, hopefully, passed this month

• Testing will commence next month

• To have the “system” in place and ready to be activated by June

Given our ageing population, one of the questions raised was if this tool could be used by persons in Bermuda who are immobile because of illness. The reality remains that we have a growing population of persons over 65 years old, which will subsequently lead to more and more of them being unable to get out to vote.

If you are not sure if you are properly registered, or wish to get one of your friends or relatives registered to vote, please feel free to call or WhatsApp myself at 599-0901.

In the next piece, we will get to look at some of the other key aspects of the presentation given by Mr Woolridge and her staff. It cannot be reiterated enough that they are truly doing their best under trying circumstances to prepare Bermuda for what is expected to be a pivotal General Election.