Confusion reigned at the Kendal G L Isaacs National Gymnasium on Wednesday as Bahamaians began casting ballots in the advanced poll ahead of the May 10 general election..
National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage, who has responsibility for elections, told reporters that while the process was not going as freely as he would have hoped, he was nonetheless confident that polling will be conducted smoothly next week Wednesday.
“We are working as efficiently and effectively as we can to get it done,” he said, adding “the Parliamentary Registration Department is responsible for the conduct of elections”.
Hundreds of supporters of the three main political parties – the ruling Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), the main opposition Free National Movement and the smaller opposition Democratic National Alliance (DNA)- had gathered under a tent close to the venue in a bid to cast ballots from as early as 7.am local time.
Some party officials complained that there were several irregularities while some voters complained that the voter cards were being stamped with wrong dates.
An opposition candidate told reporters that the names of several of his poll workers who registered for the advanced poll were not available.
But despite the confusion, electoral officials say they anticipate that electoral workers, members of the security forces and the diplomatic service had taken advantage of the early poll on Wednesday.
There are an estimated 180,000 people registered to vote in the May 10 general election with the PLP seeking to hold on to power in the 41-member Parliament.
Meanwhile, the Guyana-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat said that CARICOM will send an Electoral Observer Mission to the Bahamas following a request from the Governor General of the Bahamas, Dame Marguerite Pindling.
The team will be led by Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer of the Department of Elections and Boundaries of Belize and will include Orrette Fisher, Director of Elections of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica.
“Other members of the CEOM are nationals of Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago, all of whom have election management and election observation experience. The CEOM will be supported by two members of staff from the Secretariat,” the Secretariat noted.
“Observation of the electoral process and electoral procedures in the various member states of the Community is a regular practice in keeping with the importance the Caribbean Community places on good governance,” it added.