FRIDAY, NOV. 16: We live in a time of technological wonders – things are done routinely today that would have been thought of as magic just a few years ago.

So why is it that we have been unable to extend the vote to many Bermudians who have to be overseas at election time?  Students at many universities, for example, will be involved in examinations on polling day this year, and will therefore not be able to exercise their right to vote.

Absentee ballots have been used routinely by democratic countries all over the world for decades, and could easily be implemented as part of the Bermuda Parliamentary process.

Voting is a right.  We should be empowering our Bermudian students.  They should have the same say the rest of us do in shaping the future of our country.

In his Reply to the Throne Speech in 2011, OBA Leader Craig Cannonier said this:  “We will immediately overhaul the Parliamentary Elections Act to involve as many citizens as possible in decisions about the future of the Island. We will extend the advance poll for those who are travelling, and absentee ballots to students living abroad.”  

It is a policy attached to one of our core principles – inclusiveness.  An OBA Government will not leave those students behind!

But there are other ways in which we think we could take advantage of technology.  It is a mystery to me why, when computer-assisted voting has been used elsewhere for decades, we continue to use an outdated model.   The Government has had plenty of opportunity to make changes.  It has amended the Parliamentary Election Act four times since it has been in office – in 1999, 2003, 2007, and most recently in 2012.  But successive Cabinets obviously lack either the will or sufficient concern about the issue to do something about it.

Elsewhere, Direct-Recording Electronic voting machines, which replace paper ballots, are used by all voters in all elections in Brazil and India, and also on a large scale in Venezuela and the United States.

Optical scan voting systems allow a computer to count ballots accurately faster than any human is capable of doing. 

Internet voting systems are not as accepted because they are not yet considered foolproof.  There are security concerns about their susceptibility to hacking and fraud.  However, they have been used in elections and referenda in the UK and two or three European countries, as well as in municipal elections in Canada and in the primary elections of both parties in the United States.  There are double authentication systems in use throughout the world that have a high degree of success.

In an historic first for Bermuda, the One Bermuda Alliance used online voting in 2011 at its first Party Conference to facilitate voting by off-island members in electing its first slate of leaders. 

So it can be done. The only thing that’s missing is the will to make it happen; the will to make sure people’s voices are heard. The Government doesn’t have the will. But we do.

Our stand on this issue is anchored to one of the OBA’s founding principles – inclusiveness. We want a Bermuda in which no one is left behind and that extends to making sure all who can vote, can vote.

Our aim is to bring people together, not just to work together but to give them a greater say in the future of their Island. This is the kind of hope and change we want for Bermuda.

• Toni Daniels is the OBA’s Shadow Minister for Youth and Families.