The three parties in a battle for power in today’s General Election have made their final pitches to the people.
Now Bermuda’s voters will get the last word on who will hold the reins of government after weeks of campaigning and the emergence of a new political party.
The October 1 snap election was called by David Burt on August 21. The Premier said he wanted to spare the country a string of by-elections if several MPs from the then Opposition One Bermuda Alliance decided to retire.
Polling today, with the backdrop of more than six months of the Covid-19 pandemic, pits the Progressive Labour Party against the One Bermuda Alliance — with a third party and potential upsetter, the Free Democratic Movement, also in the mix.
A PLP spokeswoman said: “Today’s election is about leadership and who we want to see us through the economic recovery.
“On the one hand, we have David Burt and the PLP team who ably managed the pandemic and who has a clear and detailed plan to rebuild our economy with a heart for Bermudians.
“On the other, we have Craig Cannonier and the OBA who only offer attacks and have no ideas and no solutions for Bermuda’s future.
“Bermudians need to ask themselves which leader and which team they want to see us through the recovery and a possible second wave of the coronavirus.”
But Mr Cannonier said: “Bermuda is at a crossroads — only one way leads to prosperity.
“The OBA has the proven track record, the most capable team and the better philosophy to bring shared prosperity for all Bermudians. We will choose the way to prosperity.
“The OBA truly represents Bermuda — its candidates come from all walks of life and all backgrounds. We are truly inclusive.
“Our social contract, our platform, https://oba.bm/platform/, is our solemn pledge to you that no one will be left behind, that all will be treated fairly and equally and that we will do better.”
Marc Bean, the leader of the FDM, said: “A vote for the FDM is a vote for our children and grandchildren, that will assist in ensuring that they may be bequeathed with a legacy that is worth inheriting.
“A vote for the FDM is thus a vote for honesty, truth, integrity, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. A vote for the FDM is a vote for good governance, checks and balances, and a surety that you will not be taken for granted.”
The PLP’s platform included promises to establish a Bermuda National Digital Bank, which would be used to launch casino gaming, along with a push for green energy and plans to jump-start large capital projects driven by private investment rather than public cash.
The OBA pledged to cut taxes and boost jobs and reduce the island’s debt.
Other platform promises included a cut in the size of Cabinet, fewer parliamentary seats, and the introduction of fixed-term elections.
The FDM platform said it would introduce changes to the education system that devolved more power to schools, deregulation to spur business growth along with a scaled-down government.
The party said it would also promote renewable power to cut energy costs and deliver Bermudian status for long-term residents.
It is just over three years since a PLP landslide swept the one-term OBA administration from power on July 18, 2017.
The past five weeks of electioneering came with some surprises.
Rolfe Commissiong, of the PLP, withdrew from the running for Pembroke South East a week after Parliament was dissolved.
Mr Bean, a former leader of the PLP, put rumours to rest and announced the third force in politics on September 4.
Three uncontested constituencies went to the PLP on September 10, nomination day — Pembroke East Central, Pembroke Central and Warwick South Central.
The PLP fielded candidates for all 36 constituencies and the OBA unveiled 31.
The FDM put forward 15 — but one, Kae Thomas Palacio, later pulled out the race in Southampton West Central.
Five independent candidates threw hats in the electoral ring — Norris Brangman in Sandys North Central, David W. Burch in Warwick South East, the Reverend Maria Seaman and Antoine Raynor in Warwick North Central, and Marilyn Steede in Devonshire South Central.
Polls will be open today from 8am to 8pm and the counts will begin as soon as the polls close.
The Parliamentary Registry will post results online at election.gov.bm, where voters can also find details on polling station locations.
Identification, such as a Bermuda driving licence or a Commonwealth passport, is required to cast a vote.
Voting in a pandemic
A safe General Election was promised by David Burt despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Saliva testing for the coronavirus was offered last night and Tuesday night for the Parliamentary Registrar’s staff as well as election candidates.
Masks and physical distancing by 6ft are required at all polling stations today, with no physical contact permitted — even the bumping of elbows.
The rules are in effect outside polling locations, including the parking area.
Voters must get their temperatures checked and sanitise their hands before entering, with hand sanitisers placed at entrances.
Polling station managers are to ensure that staff wash their hands regularly.
No staff showing symptoms will be allowed to work, and anyone showing a temperature above 99.5F will be sent to seek medical advice.
Signs and markings are to be in place to maintain restrictions.
All surfaces will be regularly sanitised, including areas of frequent contact: counters, rails, pens and keyboards.
Restrooms will be open to one person at a time