OAS Electoral Observation Mission hails ‘openness, cooperation’ in Bahamas elections

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, CMC – The  Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) of the Organization of American States (OAS) deployed in the Bahamas for the May 2017 general elections on Wednesday presented its report  to the Permanent Council of the organization, highlighting the “openness and cooperation” of authorities, parties, civic groups and the people of the country, and presented recommendations to improve processes.
The Chief of Mission, OAS Ombudsperson Sherry Tross, congratulated the Bahamas “on the steps it has taken to provide access to the vote to eligible citizens who live abroad and those who are unable to attend their polling place” on election day.
Tross noted that, in the meetings of the Mission with a wide range of actors, key concerns shared with the Mission included the state of preparedness of the Parliamentary Registration Department (PRD) and the appointment of a new Parliamentary Commissioner just days before the general elections.
Tross said these issues “combined to create a sense of unease among stakeholders.”
She noted the “professional and competent fashion” in which the new Commissioner and the staff of the PRD “ensured the successful completion of the elections,” according to the OAS.
The Mission recommended clarification regarding those who are eligible to participate in the Advanced Poll; putting in place new procedures to avoid a transition between Parliamentary Commissioners during the electoral process; digitizing registration procedures and moving toward the use of biometric voter cards; and · improving voter education.
The Mission also recommended enhancing the impartiality of the boundary drawing process; adopting a legal framework on campaign finance; and developing programs to promote women’s participation and leadership in politics.
The Mission comprised11 international experts and observers from eight OAS member states.
The OAS said the team analyzed key aspects of the electoral process, including electoral organization, electoral technology, constituency boundaries, political finance, gender equity and relevant political developments.
Following the presentation of the report, the Permanent Representative of The Bahamas to the OAS, Sidney Staley Collie, said his government “will earnest and soberly review the report and, where deemed practical, make the necessary reforms predicated on lessons learned, international best practices and recommendations offered therein.
“We look to the OAS for continued support in the never-ending work to perfect and strengthen our democracy,” he added.

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