Media Center

Press Release

OAS Electoral Observation Mission to The Bahamas Presents Findings and Recommendations

  December 20, 2017

The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) deployed in The Bahamas for the May 2017 general elections today presented its report to the Permanent Council of the Organization, in which it highlighted the openness and cooperation of authorities, parties, civic groups and the people of the country, and presented recommendations to improve processes.

The Chief of Mission, OAS Ombudsperson Sherry Tross, congratulated The Bahamas “on the steps it has taken to provide access to the vote to eligible citizens who live abroad and those who are unable to attend their polling place” on election day.

The Chief of Mission noted that in the meetings of the Mission with a wide range of actors, key concerns shared with the Mission included the state of preparedness of the Parliamentary Registration Department (PRD) and the appointment of a new Parliamentary Commissioner just days before the general elections, issues that “combined to create a sense of unease among stakeholders.” She then noted the “professional and competent fashion” in which the new Commissioner and the staff of the PRD “ensured the successful completion of the elections.”

Among its recommendations, the Mission urged:

· clarification regarding those who are eligible to participate in the Advanced Poll
· putting in place new procedures to avoid a transition between Parliamentary Commissioners during the electoral process
· digitizing registration procedures and moving toward the use of biometric voter cards
· improving voter education
· enhancing the impartiality of the boundary drawing process
· adopting a legal framework on campaign finance
· and developing programs to promote women’s participation and leadership in politics.

The Mission was made up of 11 international experts and observers from eight OAS member states. The team analyzed key aspects of the electoral process, including electoral organization, electoral technology, constituency boundaries, political finance, gender equity and relevant political developments.

Following the presentation of the report, the Permanent Reresentative of The Bahamas to the OAS, Sidney Staley Collie, said his Government "will earnest and soberly review the report and, where deemed practical, make the necessary reforms predicated on lessons learned, international best practices and recommendations offered therein". "We look to the OAS for continued support in the never-endng work to perfect nd strengthen our democracy", he added.

Both the OAS Mission and the Permanent Representative of The Bahamas expressed their appreciation for the contributions made by Argentina, Chile, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Serbia, Spain, South Korea and the United States, which enabled the deployment of the Mission.

Reference: E-095/17