NASSAU – Embattled Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall yesterday confirmed that his contract has expired and that he would not be seeking an extension, as he adamantly defended himself from harsh criticisms over his department’s abysmal handling of Wednesday’s advanced polling process.
Mr Hall, in an interview with reporters at his Farrington Road office, confirmed that his three-year contract for the position ended yesterday and frankly stated that it is now up to the government to “do what they wish to do” with regards to filling the position moving forward.
Nonetheless, Mr Hall firmly charged that Wednesday’s chaotic process was not his fault, but instead the result of insubordinate or misguided officials within his department who did not follow his “directives” and instructions.
He also said he is not “incompetent,” telling reporters that he is an Oxford graduate.
Mr Hall also suggested that Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Carl Smith, whom he appointed as senior returning officer for the advanced poll, is the one to blame for the decision to literally corral thousands of voters into the Kendal GL Isaacs Gymnasium, instead of two locations as originally planned.
Mr Hall said despite giving “specific instructions” on what should take place just weeks prior, “somehow” the decision was made just to use one location.
Harrison Thompson, the department’s permanent secretary, was present during the interview, and said he too gave certain directives to officials. However, he said, those instructions were not followed.
“Truth be told, my contract expires today, fourth of May,” Mr Hall said on Thursday. “Three-year contract. And, of course, it’s up to the government what they wish to do in my particular situation, but my contract will expire today. I did not seek an extension.”
When pressed on the matter, Mr Hall said: “All I can say my contract expires today. You can draw your conclusions from that.”
When questioned about the chaotic scenes, specifically the reason why only one polling site was open on Wednesday despite the department previously publishing public notices that there would be two voting sites, Mr Hall said: “It’s right for you to ask me that, but as I said I delegated that function to Mr Smith as returning officer. He would have made the decision.
Wednesday’s events have intensified calls for Mr Hall to be disciplined. The night of the advanced poll, former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham called on the government to retire Mr Hall, a man he has criticised before.
The advanced poll started around 9.20am – instead of 8am – because ballot boxes were delivered late. As a result, voting, which should have ended at 6pm, was extended to 7.20pm.
Mr Hall did not give a specific reason for the late start yesterday, only stating that after working a 24-hour shift getting the ballot boxes packed and dispatched, the boxes for the advanced poll in New Providence left the department at 7.45am headed for the gymnasium, which is not far away.
In addition to other complaints, some voters claimed their names were not on the advanced poll register, although they had applied to vote early.
Some residents of the Family Islands also complained that they were only advised on Wednesday that they could not do early voting in their communities, but had to travel to Nassau instead.
Reports circulated on social media on Wednesday night that Mr Thompson would be appointed to replace Mr Hall; however neither man could confirm those reports during the interview.
On Wednesday, Mr Christie would not reveal whether the government intended to remove Mr Hall from overseeing Wednesday’s election, only stating: “We are going to make the right decision for the country.”
Now that Mr Hall has confirmed the expiration of his contract, and that he was not seeking an extension, it is unclear who will oversee the Wednesday’s general election.