BAHAMAS-ELECTION-CARICOM Observer mission gives Bahamas election high marks but notes pre-election day concerns

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana, May 16, CMC – The Electoral Observation Mission from the 15 member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) regional body has praised the May 10 polling day activities, describing them as being “of a very high standard comparable with anywhere else in the Region”.
The Mission, in its Preliminary Statement issued on Tuesday, reported that polling stations opened on time, were fully staffed and were conveniently located and easily accessible to the voters including the disabled.
They also noted the adequate supplies of material, and adequate security which they said contributed to the level of calm which accompanied the day’s activities.
The Mission however found that activities prior to Polling Day cast a shadow over the electoral process.
“For example, the unexpected change of the Parliamentary Commissioner just days before the election was a concern. ” the Mission’s Statement said, although it noted that this did not seem to have affected the quality of the election.
Other pre-election day concerns, including the late publication of the advanced poll register, voters inability to confirm beforehand if their names were on the advanced polling list and the incorrect polling station numbers being written onto voters card, can be addressed with the introduction and use of modern technology in the registration process, the Mission indicated.
The eleven-member CARICOM Electoral Observation Mission was led by Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer of Belize, with Orette Fisher, Director of the Elections Commission of Jamaica as her Deputy.
The other Members, who all have election management and observation experience, are nationals of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, St Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
They were supported by two staff members of the CARICOM Secretariat.
The Free National Movement (FNM) led by Dr. Hubert Minnis won a landslide victory in the polls, taking 35 of the 39 seats at stake.
The Mission will prepare a full report for submission to CARICOM Secretary-General of Irwin LaRocque, which will include recommendations on the implementation of modern technology in the registration process, an independent boundaries commission, and campaign financing regulation aimed at strengthening the electoral process in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

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