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Columns : Letters to The Editor Last Updated: Mar 6, 2017 - 11:17:09 AM

Ian Strachan: Voters’ Rights In Our Bahamas
By Ian Strachan, Co-Founder, Out Da Box
Mar 6, 2017 - 10:30:28 AM

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Everyone generally agrees that we all have the right to vote. We know that in our country that right was denied women until they cast votes for the first time in 1962. Women’s right to vote was won through protest. Educating the people, agitating things and animating those who stood on the sidelines.

What if I said that today, 2017, the issue of Voters’ Rights is every bit as crucial as it was 50 years ago?

In the US the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 to ensure African Americans in the South were not denied their right as citizens to vote for the representatives of their choice. It is still relevant in the US today where tactics are used to minimize the participation of Blacks in elections across that nation.

Here in The Bahamas many fundamental rights of voters are flouted and successive governments face no consequences for this abuse. For instance:

• Do you have a right to select the candidates who will offer themselves in your constituency? That right is DENIED.

• Do you have a right to know who is funding the candidates and political parties you support or that ask for your support? That right is DENIED.

• Do you have a right to choose the leader of your political party? That right is DENIED.

• Do you have a right to know the financial status of your candidates and representatives (their assets, liabilities and expenditure?) That right is DENIED.

• Do you have the right to vote in secrecy? That right is DENIED.

• Do you have the right to know when elections will be held in your country? That right is DENIED

• Do you have the right to get to know the candidates who are asking for your vote by hearing them debate and speak in national media about their plans etc? That right is DENIED.

• Do you have a right to know, in a timely fashion, which candidates are running for your constituency so you can have sufficient time to get to know them and make an informed decision? That right is DENIED.

• How will you get these rights restored to you? I see no other way than protest. The political class benefits from your lack of these basic rights.

We must educate, agitate and animate. We must perform acts of civil disobedience to draw attention to the evils of the system. We must apply pressure to those who benefit from the system as it is and make it politically unattractive to continue in this way. And we must become citizen activists fighting for the kind of democracy we want our children to enjoy.

Join us in protesting the disregard for voter’s rights in this election. Like the page facebook.com/groups/OutDaBox242. The Spoil the Ballot campaign is already applying pressure to the political parties.

After the election, plan to attend to Future of Democracy Conference in July, where we as citizens will come together to articulate exactly which reforms we want to see instituted and set out strategies to attain them, so that we can have the strong and healthy democracy we deserve.

You can write Ian Strachan at strachantalk@gmail.com or join facebook.com/groups/democracy242 to continue the conversation.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of TheBahamasWeekly.com

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