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Barritt backs voter reform

Former MP John Barritt backed long-awaited plans to crack down on residents voting in the constituency they no longer live in.

The retired politician claimed Progressive Labour Party MPs accused him of trying to disenfranchise voters when he suggested the very same amendments two years ago.

Mr Barritt’s private members’ bill to modernise the election process was rejected in 2010, but many of its ideas are replicated in the Parliamentary Election Amendment Act, tabled on Monday by Premier Paula Cox.

He told

The Royal Gazette yesterday: “The first three items sound in principle to be exactly what I proposed in an amendment act which the Government rejected, and for which I was roundly criticised by some of their members, something about trying to disenfranchise voters.

“Nonsense and welcome aboard.”

The new act gives the Parliamentary Registrar power to transfer voters to the constituency where they are qualified to be registered; the Opposition was concerned that hundreds of people remained registered to vote in areas where they no longer reside, potentially dramatically affecting elections in marginal constituencies.

Mr Barritt also advocated the extended advance polling which will be introduced by the new amendments: candidates and people working at polling stations will be allowed to vote in advance, while those off Island at election time will have a larger window to take part in the ballot.

However he said the law should go further and set up absentee balloting for overseas voters, claiming former Premier Alex Scott had initiated such a move some years ago.

“What became of that?” said Mr Barritt, who resigned as an MP last September after 18 years in the House of Assembly for the United Bermuda Party and One Bermuda Alliance.

“There is more reform required to modernise like an independent Electoral Commission to oversee and fixed term elections to take the politics out of the right to vote and the exercise of that vote.”

Registrar Randy Scott stresses that previous amendments, which place the onus on voters to keep their registrations current, will remain in place.

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Published March 22, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 22, 2012 at 9:28 am)

Barritt backs voter reform

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