BDM candidate calls for complete ballot secrecy

The Bahamas Democratic Movement candidate for the Yamacraw Constituency is calling on the Free National Movement government to ensure the complete secrecy of election ballots.

Samuel Bain, a veteran educator, said the constitutional rights of Bahamians are being violated.

"In light of the aforementioned and in the spirit of transparency the Bahamas Democratic Movement urges the FNM government to cause the Parliamentary Commissioner to issue immediate orders to all election officials that nothing, other than the signature of the presiding officer, is to be written on the ballot, the stub, or the counterfoil before or after the ballot is issued," Bain said. "Failure on the part of the FNM government to effect this change," he continued, "would be a clear sign that the Free National Movement is not committed to the principles of free and fair elections."

Electoral reform is not a one-time process, he went on, but should be continuously reviewed with an aim to improving voter registration, casting of ballots and counting of votes.

"Paramount among these is the secrecy of the ballot. Continuous effort must be made to ensure that the ballot is absolutely secret. There should be no blanket mechanism in place that would make it possible to identify any voter after any election," he stated.

There are times when a voter has to be identified because electoral agents have a query as to the legitimacy of the voter who cast a ballot, he conceded, but "there is an insidious system of identification in place today."

Bain said each ballot is similar to a raffle ticket, with a unique number, which is also printed on the stub, whose number is left when the ballot is torn from the book.

"The wickedness begins when the electoral official who issues the blank ballot to the voter also writes the voter's card number on the stub," he contended. "From the stub, one can identify both the voter and his ballot. Consequently, it is possible for someone with wicked intent to go back and locate the counterfoil of a particular voter, obtain the voter's card number and search until he finds the same voter's card number handwriting on a stub with a unique ballot number."

Parliamentary Commissioner Errold Bethel refuted Bain's suggestion, stating that there is no individual, whether an election official or otherwise who has access to the ballots or can go through ballots to see how a person may have voted.

Created: 22 August 2017
Hits: 1934