Commission agrees on boundary changes
The Constituency Boundaries Commission has recommended that the House of Assembly make certain changes to the island's boundaries.
New maps and related legal descriptions of the changes are currently being prepared, and will be presented to Governor John Rankin.
He will then pass on the document to the House to decide whether or not to make an order approving the Report.
Francis Alexis QC, chairman of the Commission, admitted changing constituency boundaries was a “demanding challenge”.
And he credits the unanimous agreement “to the exemplary statesmanship” by the governing One Bermuda Alliance and the Opposition Progressive Labour Party.
“The enormity of this statesmanship is emphasised”, said Dr Alexis in a statement, “by the fact that, with Bermuda having 36 constituencies for its voters.”
The four parliamentary members of the Commission are OBA MPs Sylvan Richards and Mark Pettingill and Michael Scott and Jamahl Simmons of the PLP. Also on the Commission was David Jenkins, Chief Justice of Prince Edward Island-Canada, who was selected by former Governor George Fergusson.
“While both OBA and PLP have their own respective perspectives on constituency boundaries, they both elevated above those party concerns the higher national interest in promoting the mission of the Constitution,” said a statement released by Secretary Tenia Woolridge, on behalf of the Commission.
“The Constitution requires that, from time to time, the Commission review the constituency boundaries and report thereon to the House.
“In deciding whether or not to recommend any changes in the boundaries, the Commission has to ensure that the constituencies contain, as far as reasonably practicable, equal numbers of persons qualified to be registered as electors. This is to achieve equality of votes.
“The Commission has to consider the constitutionally prescribed factors; as geographical features, natural boundaries and contiguity of constituencies.”
The Commission had eight meetings of its own and four public consultations. It drew upon the 2010 Report of the previous Commission, written submissions from members of the public, professional geographic information systems expertise from Kevin Mayall and voter registration data provided by Parliamentary Registrar Tenia Woolridge.
“The Commission noted that the final Report on the 2016 Census would likely not be ready until after September 2018, which would be too late for the Commission to meet its constitutional time line.
“On all those factors, the Commission agreed to recommend that there be a maximum tolerance for deviation of 7 per cent from the mean number of voters per constituency.
“The mean, the average number of estimated eligible voters in each constituency, is 1,480. Ten constituencies fall outside of this tolerance for deviation of 7 per cent.
“This 7 per cent deviation from the mean would maximise attainment of the goal of ‘equal vote of equal value', to ensure one-person one-vote of equal value. At the same time, it would minimise confusion caused to voters by being moved from one constituency to another.”