New power will stamp out voting irregularities
People will be stopped from voting in constituencies where they no longer live under new legislation reforming the election process.
The Parliamentary Registrar will be given power to transfer incorrectly registered residents under the Parliamentary Election Amendment Act, tabled by Premier Paula Cox on Monday night.
It comes after pressure from the United Bermuda Party, which complained marginal constituencies could be dramatically affected by voters who have moved out of an area but remain registered there.
Former Opposition MP John Barritt attempted to modernise election rules with a private members’ bill in 2010, but that was rejected after then Premier Ewart Brown said the matter was already under review.
The One Bermuda Alliance gave its support to the amendments.
Parliamentary Registrar Randy Scott said the bill tabled by Ms Cox will make the voting process easier for voters.
l enable the Parliamentary Registrar to investigate whether a voter is registered in the correct constituency;
l empower the Parliamentary Registrar to transfer a voter to the constituency where they are qualified to be registered;
l allow candidates and everyone else working at polling stations to vote in an advance poll;
l create an extended advance poll for people off Island on polling day.
Explaining the need for the legislation, Mr Scott told
The Royal Gazette: “Voters should always be registered in the constituency they ordinarily reside so the voter is not diluting the vote of a voter who is correctly registered in that constituency.
“These amendments are designed to ease the administration of an election for our part and at the same time it is inclusive of helping to enhance voter participation.
“For instance the expanding advance poll over several days, and allowing those who will be working on polling day to vote at an advance poll, will lessen potential disruption so returning officers can schedule the work day for polling station employees.
“It’s a good bill I think which it should be. Elections should be a smooth process free of encumbrances for the sake of voters.
“We know the Opposition has been clamouring for something like this, but for sure these amendments should not be seen as advantaging one party or the other.
“Election laws cannot and should not be designed to give advantage. They are merely design to make the voting process easier for voters. That has always been our focus.”
OBA Whip Shawn Crockwell said last night: “We are encouraged by these amendments and we certainly support them.
“We have been calling for this type of reform for some time; John Barritt was out front on it.
“We believed the Registrar already had power to take action against people who were wrongly registered, but this gives him a bit more teeth.
“But while we support the changes, we now hope the Registrar will utilise the powers available to him.”
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