Regular contributor to BU who submits under the moniker of Bush Tea has questioned the electoral process of Barbados which requires Polling Officers on ‘voting day’ to record the National Identification Number (NID) of the voter on the ballot paper. This is an old concern which always surfaces at election time. How valid is Bush Tea’s concern and is this a feature of our Electoral System which Barbadians should agitate to change. Some of the questions and observations which Bush Tea and others have tabled overtime:
Where else is this done?
Why was it started?
How do we know that this information is not used to victimize voters who may have voted on the ‘wrong’ side of an election?
Is this how Boards are selected?
We may as well vote by show of hands. It is a system that lends itself to DICTATORSHIP. Even my sports club vote by SECRET ballot to avoid victimization etc.
Are Bajans happy with this situation?
Can we hear from the Supervisor of Elections?
The official reason offered for recording the NID over the years has been to suggest that in the event of a challenge to an election result the Court System can easily investigate the legitimacy of the vote. We assume that if such were to occur it would be managed with the utmost caution and such a case would be processed ‘in camera’ away from the glare of the public. It seems to BU that many of the organs which make-up our system of government are built on conventions, and the fragility of our democracy can easily be exposed if strong-minded individuals occupy key positions in the country. Most systems will require some changes from time to time; we do live in an environment which is constantly changing. Does BT have a legitimate concern? The best defense which we can make to those who question the current system of voting is to suggest that our Judicial System has been exemplary over the years and has served us well. Our political leaders and parties on both sides have served us well. Our people have been well educated and have always walked the high road when they have had to resolve conflict. Don’t forget that our electoral system accommodates observers from both sides in the electoral process. It is up to them to understand the weaknesses and to apply the appropriate due-diligence.
So what are we afraid of Bush Tea et al?
Here is a high level view of the voting process on Election Day:
Each voter (also called an elector) receives a form shortly before an election in their constituency; it gives the location of their polling station.
Each elector presents his/her identification card to officials at the polling station, who checks off the name of the voter against the electoral register and issue the voter a ballot paper – The NID is recorded on the counterfoil of the ballot paper before delivery to the voter – added by BU
Electors vote by putting an X on the ballot form against the name of the candidate they want to represent them, and then placing the ballot paper in a sealed box. (Any other mark or comment on the paper render it invalid.)
When polling closes, the ballot boxes are collected from each polling station in the constituency and taken to a central point. There the seals are checked before the boxes are opened and the votes for each candidate are counted.
When the counting finishes, the results of voting in that constituency are announced by the returning officer, who declares the winner of the election.
Source: Vote Barbados
Several politicians, both current and past, along with civil servants and knowledgeable citizens visit BU. This is an opportunity to discuss an issue which some people describe as a ‘hot potato’. Who will touch it?