Scenes from outside the Election Courts as both candidates Allyson Gibson (left) and declared winner Byron Woodside (right) would await a recount of the votes cast in the May 2 general election. In a landmark ruling the court will throw out some 110 votes cast in the constituency. The recount would commence on Monday at 9AM. (Photo by Letish Henderson)
Nassau, The Bahamas – Monday 21st of January is going to be D-Day in The Bahamas, where politicos cast all eyes on the recount of the Pinewood election court challenge. Justices Anita Allen and Jon Isaacs ruled on Friday, that some 110 votes cast in the Pinewood constituency in the May 2 general elections will be thrown out of the ballot box, a recount done and a winner declared.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham assured Bahamians on Friday after the landmark ruling that, ‘elections are over’ in The Bahamas, and no matter what is done even during the recount, The Free National Movement would remain the government of The Bahamas.
The ruling however sent serious shockwaves around the country, as for the first time in the history of election court proceedings, over 110 ballots in one constituency have been illegally cast in The Bahamas. One observer told our news team, “This kind of crooked voting is unprecedented, and a swift and thorough investigation into the Parliamentary Registrar General’s office must commence with immediate effect in hopes of restoring trust in the Bahamian election process.”
Sen. Allyson Maynard-Gibson took up her fight in the election court in what clearly appears prove to Bahamians, that the May 2 general elections were riddled with corruption. In her petition, the former Member of Parliament for the Pinewood constituency questioned the votes of some 159 persons who voted in the Pinewood constituency.
The declared winner of the Pinewood seat Byron Woodside through his legal team then asked the Justices to have the entire case thrown out of the court at the beginning of the proceedings in October. However, at the end of the hearings in December, after failing in his bid, Woodside agreed that over 80 votes cast in the election, should be thrown out of the ballot box and a recount done.
It is speculated that elections in The Bahamas for a while now have been riddled with some form of corruption. Politicos are now looking at a decision before the 1997 general elections, which removed the publication of the official register of voters’ list in the newspapers. The publication of the list of voters was common practice before all general elections, leaving everything public for all to see and scrutinize.
Perhaps if the Christie government had reinstated the publication of the official register of voters’ list, the problems now of election fraud and irregularities would not appear before the election court.
Could it be that both leaders of the PLP and FNM agreed to the cancellation the publication of the voters’ list, without regard for the outcome?
And since the publication of the official register of voters’ list is such a big printing contract for newspapers – who today struggle to survive – in The Bahamas, why was there such ‘deafening silence’ in bringing this decision to the attention of the public? Here is the million-dollar question no one is asking, not the PLP or the FNM, the Tribune, nor the Guardian.
Are we in The Bahamas accepting the fact that corruption can and should be allowed to exist, even in our election process? With the very polarized state of The Bahamas built up along with the heated political temperature around the country, certainly there should be concern by all right-thinking Bahamians as to what has led to this now exposed corruption in the Parliamentary Registrar Department. After all, this is the same kind of tense state that has brought instability in countries around the world, and the idea of corruption in the election process in The Bahamas, can potentially ignite such a flame.
Our concern is clear, no political leader or party should decide behind closed doors, how elections should be run in The Bahamas. The process must be ‘OPEN and TRANSPARENT’. All registered persons’ names should in any upcoming election be published in the Official Gazette (One of the dailies) for all to see. Perhaps, had Christie’s PLP corrected the poor decision taken back in 1997 by the first Ingraham government, Allyson Gibson might not have a case before the election court.
If the former Member of Parliament for Pinewood had waited for members of her party to agree with her decision to challenge her election case, Bahamians would not now know that foreigners in The Bahamas possess voters cards purchased for $1,000 through the Parliamentary Registrar Department. We would never know how scores of persons voted not only illegally in the wrong constituency, but some voted in wrong constituencies more than once. We would have never known that persons were registered in one constituency and lived in another, yet told the police when caught in a car accident, they have totally different address and telephone numbers from where they voted.
Most importantly, however, the fact voters – some with no status in The Bahamas – could hold several voters cards for more than one constituency and be brazen enough to vote in Pinewood and Marco City is just lunacy.
If Sen. Allyson Maynard-Gibson did not move swiftly and engage private detectives to investigate the corruption by citizens outside the Pinewood constituency, we in The Bahamas would never have known that some of those wicked voters were later deported after casting ballots, and some others dropped far below the radar and disappeared.
Yes, even if the former member for Parliament Allyson Maynard-Gibson does not win her seat in the election recount on Monday morning at 9 am, she would have proven a salient point in her case, that yes indeed, a dark cloud hangs over the Parliamentary Registration Department.
Thus, for the exposing of that corruption along with her persistence in her long court battle, if the seat is overturned in her favour on Monday, the ‘Iron Lady’ in Bahamian politics, Allyson Maynard-Gibson would have earned her right to represent the people of The Bahamas, moreover the people of Pinewood.