CARICOM Observation Mission gives The Bahamas elections high marks but notes pre-election day concerns

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Head of Mission Ms Josephine Tamai (front row, 2nd left) and some of her team members on election day

The CARICOM Electoral Observation Mission to the 10 May 2017 General Elections in the Bahamas has praised the 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, 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.

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Team members who were assigned to Freeport, Grand Bahama

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 Ms Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer of Belize, with Mr. 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, Saint 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 physician Dr. Hubert Minnis won a landslide victory in the polls, taking 35 of the 39 seats at stake.

See Preliminary Statement:  PRELIMINARY_STATEMENT_The_Bahamas_Elections_2017