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Register to vote on same-sex marriage

Bermudians are being urged to ensure they are registered to vote in advance of the referendum on same-sex marriage next month.

Locals have until 5pm on Wednesday to make sure their name appears on the parliamentary register or to update their entry.

This can be done at the Parliamentary Registry on the third floor of Craig Appin House, 8 Wesley Street, Hamilton, or online at www.elections.gov.bm.

Students and other voters who are overseas right now but will be back on island by polling day on June 23 can complete their registration details on the website in a process that takes minutes.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: “Residents are encouraged to ensure their registration details are correct and up to date in advance of the upcoming referendum.”

Registered voters who will be off island on polling day can vote early. Parliamentary Registrar Tenia Woolridge confirmed the advanced polling details to The Royal Gazette as June 14, 15 and 16 at the Seventh-day Adventist Church on King Street, Hamilton, between 8am and 8pm.

Anyone not able to get to the polling booth on June 23 because of overseas travel or incapacitation should visit the Parliamentary Registry after June 8, when the updated electoral register will have been completed.

They should take a passport or driver's licence and proof of their trip overseas or scheduled medical procedure, to obtain a certificate of compliance allowing them to vote early.

Ms Woolridge said voters would not be able to get advanced polling certificates before June 8 so should not visit the office for a certificate before that date.

She said certificates could still be obtained on June 14, 15 and 16, when the Parliamentary Registry will be open from 8am to 8pm.

Voter Margaret Smith said yesterday she would have liked to see advanced polling happen earlier than the week before referendum day.

A same-sex marriage supporter, she said she was very disappointed to be off island for both the advanced poll and the referendum itself.

“I'm attending a gay wedding in Texas on June 16; a friend from Mount St Agnes Academy,” she said. “I fly home on the Saturday and then we leave Sunday to go to a conference.

“It's a business thing, so not something where you can say ‘no, I can't go'. And, of course, I want to support my friend who is getting married. My husband and I won't be able to vote.”

Ms Smith questioned the wisdom of holding the referendum itself in the same week as a public holiday: National Heroes Day on Monday, June 20. Describing it as “very annoying”, she said: “A lot of Bermudians will travel.”

Lawyer Michelle Stone, also a supporter of same-sex marriage, was critical of the advanced polling being held at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, given its opposition to same-sex unions.

“It should be a neutral venue,” said the permanent resident, who does not have the right to vote here but is encouraging Bermudian friends to exercise their franchise.

“Doing it in a church — to me, that's just peculiar. It's such a weird decision. I just find that peculiar — only in Bermuda.”

Ms Woolridge said it was normal for advanced polling to be held the week before a referendum. And she said there was little choice when it came to renting space for polling stations.

“It is normally in schools or churches but the schools are in,” said the Parliamentary Registrar. “In Bermuda, we don't have many choices because we can't choose a place that's licensed to sell alcohol.

“The venue also has to be accessible to handicapped people and we try to keep them as close to the constituencies as possible.”

She added that the venue being a church had nothing to do with the poll and the Referendum Act 2012 contained specific offences for anyone attempting to influence voters within the precincts of the polling station.

“I still need to rent the hall but no one will be able to post any signage within the polling station. Nobody can stand outside and interfere with voters or anything like that.”

Details of all the polling stations for June 23 have been released, with the island's 36 constituencies broken into 12 regions, each containing three constituencies.

The stations are:

• Penno's Wharf cruise ship terminal — St George's North (1), St George's West (2), St David's (3).

• Holy Trinity Church Hall — St George's South (4), Hamilton East (5), Hamilton West (6).

• St Patrick's Church Hall — Hamilton South (7), Smith's South (8), Smith's West (9).

• Botanical Garden Horticultural Hall — Smith's North (10), Devonshire East (11), Devonshire South Central (12).

• National Sports Centre Pavilion — Devonshire North Central (13), Devonshire North West (14), Pembroke East (15).

• First Church of God Hall, North Shore — Pembroke East Central (16), Pembroke Central (17), Pembroke West Central (18).

• Seventh-day Adventist Church Hall, King Street — Pembroke West (19), Pembroke South West (20), Pembroke South East (21).

• Bermuda College Student Centre — Paget East (22), Paget West (23), Warwick South East (24).

• Windreach — Warwick North East (25), Warwick South Central (26), Warwick North Central (27).

• Calvary Gospel Church Hall — Warwick West (28), Southampton East (29), Southampton East Central (30).

• Somers Isles Lodge — Southampton West Central (31), Southampton West (32), Sandys South (33).

• Allen Temple Church Hall — Sandys South Central (34), Sandys North Central (35), Sandys North (36).

Voters can confirm their constituency at www.elections.gov.bm

Polling details: Parliamentary Registrar Tenia Woolridge

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Published May 13, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated May 13, 2016 at 12:16 pm)

Register to vote on same-sex marriage

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