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Long lines on final day of voter registration

As registration for the general election came to a close yesterday — a year and a half after it started — throngs of people showed up at registration centers across New Providence, some waiting in long lines for hours.

Those lines continued at some centers well after registration was set to end at 5 p.m.

At 11 a.m., Monique Bethel, 44, leaned along a column at the Carmichael Post Office reading a book, waiting for her name to be called.

Bethel said she had been there since 9 a.m.

“I’m a last-minute registrant,” she said.

“I’m registering today and it’s been quite a while waiting.

“I’m doing some reading to kind of forget about the time, but I’m going to wait it out.

“I’m prepared to do that.”

Bethel said she attempted to register several times but was turned away for different reasons.

She said she came back because she wants to vote.

The Tall Pines resident added that she is still unsure who she wants to vote for.

“I want to vote for the person and in my area it’s difficult for me,” she said.

“I love my candidate, but I have a problem with the party, so I’m indecisive at the moment.

“But I think [when the time comes] for me to cast my vote, I will make up my mind.”

Sherry Bonaby, another resident of Carmichael, said she wrestled with the decision to register to vote, but her brother, Leland Beckford, convinced her to go.

“Seriously, I wasn’t coming to register,” Bonaby said.

“I have no interest in doing it, but because of him, I came, because he wanted to register too.

“Right now the country is just upside down. It isn’t going in a positive direction.

“I still have to work to pay my own bills, so it doesn’t matter to me. That’s how I feel.”

Bonaby said she is not even sure she will actually vote.

“I will think about it. I will sleep on it,” she said.

“But ain’t nobody’s issues driving me to vote for nobody right now.

“I mean Branville (McCartney, the Democratic National Alliance leader) isn’t saying anything.

“I would have given him my vote, but he ain’t saying nothing. He doesn’t have any issues.

“[Free National Movement Leader Dr. Hubert] Minnis, he isn’t saying anything. But definitely I know, I’m not voting PLP.”

Beckford, however, said although it was the last day to register, he still has the right to do so.

“I’m here to put the PLP back where they supposed to be for this time, back to where they are now, to try to bring the country back to stabilization.”

Both Beckford and Bonaby said the wait was not a problem because it was something they needed to do.

At the Elizabeth Estates Post Office, Edsil Harding said he was in line from 9:30 a.m and was number 46.

Harding said he thought the registration period would have lasted longer, so his late registration was a combination of procrastination and forgetfulness.

He said he wished the announcement of Parliament’s dissolution came earlier to allow people more time to register.

“I would have liked for them to say ‘the next three weeks, we are going to dissolve the House’,” Harding said.

“Then everybody will have a chance.

“You know those people who are working and busy and taking their lunch hours to go out; those people would have had a better chance to register.”

An even larger crowd was at the Parliamentary Registration Department on Farrington Road.

Some people claimed they were waiting for more than three hours to be registered.

Shortly before 1 p.m., Jason Smith, a resident of Centreville, indicated that he had been waiting in line from 9 a.m.

“Ain’t nothing moving and people on pause in there,” Smith said.

“Ain’t no one saying anything.

“I ready to go. That’s my thought. I’m ready to leave.

“I know it doesn’t make sense leaving after waiting all this time, but I ready to go still.”

Smith said he was unable to register earlier because he was working and did not have a chance to.

Retta Sands, 65, of Carmichael, said although she had not been in line long, she was not expecting to see so many people.

“I just reached a couple minutes ago,” she said.

“But I didn’t expect to meet all these people.

“And he (Prime Minister Perry Christie) said today is the last.

“How today could be the last and people just pouring in?”

Sands was disgruntled by the process, insisting that she asked an employee in the office for help but was told to be patient.

“If I asking you to help us, go inside, call some of the people, let them come and see so they could give us numbers and look at our face, so if I slip off the line and I come back, I could still get write up,” she shouted.

“Tell Mr. Christie he is not getting my ‘X’ because they don’t treat poor people good.”

As of Sunday, there were about 167,000 people registered to vote, according to Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall.

Hall said he expects the numbers to increase close to 170,000 voters or beyond.

Distribution of voters cards will continue at the Parliamentary Registration Department.