Commonwealth election observers have released their final report on the 2021 general elections. Though the group deemed the elections fair and transparent, they also said their is room for further improvement.
The group has repeated its call for the establishment of an independent election management body in order to strengthen adherence to international good practice. They also called for legislation governing the registration of political parties and the regulation of campaign finance. The report further states that the “statutory and regulatory framework of the Parliamentary Registry Department should be amended to ensure the Department’s functional independence and to strengthen its operational and administrative capacity so it can fully exercise its overnight and management functions in accordance with international good practice.”
It would be recalled that in 2021, the Acting Parliamentary Commissioner, Lavardo Duncanson, was appointed shortly before the elections and was said to have no experience in the conduct of elections. The report addresses this by suggesting, ” the Governor-General, in consultation with the Public Service Commission should ensure that there is a substantive Parliamentary Commissioner in place before an election, and, if the need to appoint an acting commissioner arises, that the appointment of a substantive commissioner is formulated as soon as possible.”
The report also speaks to the need for voter education and that parties and candidates should conform to a code of conduct. The group further suggests the use of translucent ballot boxes and urges stakeholders and Bahamians to seriously consider their recommendations.