Hanna-Martin calls on Hall to ensure voting rights protected
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jan 09, 2017
Amidst claims of women being turned away from voter registration sites because of a lack of “appropriate” attire, Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin called the practice unacceptable and urged Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall to ensure that it is not taking place.
“It is outrageous that women are being turned away from exercising a fundamental right reportedly because of the way they are dressed,” said Hanna-Martin in a Facebook post on Friday.
“This is beyond unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.
“The parliamentary commissioner must immediately direct his staff to respect the fundamental rights of women as they seek to exercise the franchise, a right that women heroically and courageously fought for and will not be easing up on any time soon.”
When contacted for comment on the matter two weeks ago, Geoffrey McPhee, an official in the Parliamentary Registration Department, told The Nassau Guardian, “We are not turning anyone away. I would just like to make that point.”
McPhee said he was aware of the department making suggestions to several men and women about their attire. He gave one example of a man wearing a singlet, who, when advised, borrowed a T-shirt for the purpose of the voter’s card photo.
Hall reportedly said the department’s staff has the right to refuse to register people who have not followed the public service dress code, explaining that “because you have to take photographs, if someone comes with half their breasts out and cleavage showing, this isn’t permitted”.
During an interview with The Nassau Guardian at the New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade, National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage, who has ministerial responsibility for elections, pointed out there is no law that bans anyone from registering to vote because of what they are wearing.
“There are no such regulations with respect to the way you dress,” Nottage said.
“Of course, like anybody else, one would wish to dress appropriately, but we do not know the circumstances from which people come.
“Some people are doing well, and some are not doing so well, and so no hindrance should be put in the way of people registering to vote by the parliamentary registrar or anyone else.”
As of Friday, there were well over 76,000 registered voters. About 172,000 people registered to vote in the last election.