Voter apathy a genuine cause for concern

  • Tawana Tannock (File photograph)

    Tawana Tannock (File photograph)

  • Ashfield DeVent

    Ashfield DeVent

  • John Barritt (Photograph supplied)

    John Barritt (Photograph supplied)

Disillusioned residents may have “voted in their seat” and stayed away from the polls yesterday, a political commentator said.

Ashfield DeVent believed that the absence of thousands of eligible voters from the ballot boxes sent a message to the incoming Government.

The former Progressive Labour Party minister said: “They voted in their seat; they stayed at home.”

He added: “There is certainly a message and it’s a message that the Government needs to pay particular attention to.

“They’ve won this big majority but now they have to keep people happy and satisfied and they’ve got to find out ... why didn’t they vote?”

Mr DeVent said that he thought the voter turnout was affected by people “across the board” and added that it would be interesting to find out the age range of non-voters.

He added: “I would venture to bet they’re younger ... some of them may have voted once, maybe twice — that group, and they’re just disillusioned and not happy with either side.

“I’ve spoken to quite a few and I would also venture that a lot of people that I spoke to that said they weren’t going to vote were young black males.”

The Parliamentary Registrar said that the total vote count was 25,763 and there were 46,311 registered voters.

There were three uncontested constituencies, which meant that 3,673 voters were unable to cast a ballot.

Taking those seats into account, voter turnout was 60 per cent.

John Barritt, a former United Bermuda Party and One Bermuda Alliance MP, said “a statement” was made by those who did not vote.

He added: “Is that concern with the pandemic? Is that people who no longer reside in Bermuda and are still on the [electoral] roll? But I don’t believe either one of those explain that great a number.”

Mr Barritt said: “It’s got to be a note of caution for the Progressive Labour Party government that, notwithstanding the majority that they’ve won, they’ve got to somehow take into account as they go forward what those people were thinking and saying by not voting.

“There will obviously have to be some analysis of the numbers constituency by constituency because I think it’s interesting if you contrast some of the ones that the OBA lost compared to the ones that they hung on to like Michael Dunkley’s in Smith’s North — it’s hard to discern exactly what was going on.”

Tawana Tannock, a businesswoman and former chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission, said that she would like to see “independent voices” in Parliament.

She pointed to the success of Marc Bean, the Free Democratic Movement leader, against Jeff Sousa, of the OBA, although both lost to Kathy Lynn Simmons, of the PLP, in Sandys North.

Ms Tannock said: “The fact that we have an FDM candidate beating out an OBA candidate, that gives me hope that people do now see the value of having independent thinkers.”

In Southampton West, which was held by the PLP’s Scott Simmons with 551 votes, the OBA’s Karen Magnum won 131 votes and the FDM’s Christopher Gauntlett was close behind on 100.

Ms Tannock added: “Again, that tells us something about what people want. And what people realise is that they don’t want politics as usual; they don’t want to follow a party blindly.

“Those are the numbers that interest me the most and also give me hope.

“When I saw the number of independents running and I saw the formation of the FDM, I was really heartened to see that finally we were starting to take this process as not having to be just between the two parties.”

She said: “Whether or not we agree with the independents’ platforms, I think it’s something to be said that they seize it and took that time and ran with it.”

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Published Oct 2, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 2, 2020 at 8:22 am)

Voter apathy a genuine cause for concern

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