Parliamentary Registrar can do more to assist our voters

Governments and major corporations often hire consultants to give them reports and suggestions as to how to improve their services and/or profit margins. And, they pay out hefty sums for the advice of these consultants.

After paying out those funds, the recommendations are either implemented or ignored.

More often than not, some of the greatest solutions to complex issues come via simple conversations with everyday people.

Over the past three years of canvassing and three by-elections, we have garnered a fair bit of observations and advice from persons across the island in regards to how the various processes associated with registering to vote and voting can be made easier for all Bermudians.

Many times we are asked by a parent to register their child, who is 18 or over, to vote.

On numerous occasions, the question that has been asked is: why is there not a process for automatic voter registration? Essentially, what persons would like to see is that once a person with Bermudian status turns 18, they are automatically put on the voters’ list.

In the words of quite a few young people in Warwick, “if we are automatically put on the list for conscription once we turn 18, we can be automatically put on the voters’ list”.

Think about it, the mechanism is already in place:

• The Office of the Registrar-General knows when a person turns 18

• The Department of Immigration knows who has full Bermudian status

• The Parliamentary Registrar is fed information daily from both of those departments

If we are serious about empowering Bermudians, one of the first steps must be making their ability to vote as seamless as possible. After all, by law we must all be registered to vote.

Another recommendation we have been inundated with is for the Parliamentary Registrar to have its staff visit elderly or bedridden persons at their homes so they can cast their ballots.

With 15,000 voters over the age of 65, one third of the electorate, we are witnessing a growing demographic who are unable to leave their homes to get out to shop, attend church or vote.

Why should these individuals, who are of sound mind, be denied the right to exercise their democratic right based solely on being physically disabled or incapacitated?

The Parliamentary Registrar provides staff to visit persons who are in the hospital for long-term care or those who are in elder care homes. The logistics of sending persons to the homes of those who have been certified as bedridden should not be that challenging.

Most of them have given the best years of their lives to uplifting Bermuda. Surely, we can find a way to accommodate them.

We must impress on those responsible for changing the requisite legislation and policies to do so before the next election.

If not, we are systematically disenfranchising our fellow Bermudians.

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Published Jan 20, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 20, 2017 at 1:05 am)

Parliamentary Registrar can do more to assist our voters

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