Our History

 

History of the form of Government in Barbados

The form of Government in Barbados between 1627 and 1639 was Crown Colony Government which comprised; a Governor, a Legislative Council and House of Assembly (established in 1639). The Legislative Council was a nominated body, of nine (9) members, appointed by the Crown on the Governor’s recommendation and the Assembly was an elected body initially comprising two (2) representatives from each of the eleven (11) parishes. In 1843, the Assembly increased to twenty-four (24) with the introduction of two (2) representatives for Bridgetown. From 1660 until 1901 the life of the Assembly was two (2) years. In 1937, it was extended to three (3) years and in 1951 it was then extended to five (5) years.

In 1901, the legislative qualification for voting was primarily property ownership, however, on June 6, 1950 a Bill was passed in the House of Assembly to emend the Representation of the People Act. The Bill abolished the property qualification for membership of the General Assembly and introduced adult suffrage, thereby granting the franchise to every member of the population, twenty-one years old and over, to vote for members of the House of Assembly and on October 22, 1963 the franchise was extended to persons eighteen years and over.

History of the Electoral Department

An Office of the Chief Registering Officer, headed by the Local Commissioner, Mr. Crichlow Matthews was established in the 1960’s to administer Local Government Elections and to conduct General Elections.

In 1966, a house-to-house survey was conducted throughout the island. The Department acquired some Willson Indentograph Cameras, which took black and white photographs and Mr. Eric Gibbs, Mr. Valdemar Millingon and others spearheaded a program for the production of the Barbados Identification (ID) Card. A pilot scheme was carried out with the Port Authority, the Sanitation Service Authority and the District Hospitals and in 1969 the first ID Cards were issued for the By-Election in the Constituency of Bridgetown.

In September 1969, Mr. Dennis Smith was appointed as the Chief Registering Officer. Camera Centres were established throughout the island in various constituencies and ID cards were issued Island-wide.

On April 1, 1971, the name of the Chief Registering Officer was changed to Chief Electoral Officer and the Electoral Department was established and headed by the first Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Dennis Smith. The Officer was then situated at “Verona House”, Bank Hall, St. Michael. In September of the same year, General Elections were held with the Chief Electoral Officer as the Supervisor of Elections and ID Cards were used for the first time in General Elections and at which persons eighteen (18) years of age, were allowed to vote.

In 1972, a Senior Photographer and other personnel were appointed to the Department which was relocated to the National Insurance Building, Fairchild Street, Bridgetown, from where the September 2, 1976 General Elections were conducted.

The National Registration System and the Voters Registration System were computerized with the assistance of the Data Processing and Statistical Service Departments from April 1, 1979 and ID cards were issued with coloured photographs.

In January 2001, a Genicom printer was used to print the Register of Electors/Voters list; however, it was for the St. Thomas By-Election of September 21, 2001 that the Department printed the Register of Electors for the first time without the assistance of the Data Processing Department.

In 2009, digital cameras were introduced and with the use of laptop computers, the computerizing of the registration service from Constituency Registration Centers began. This was followed with the introduction of digital signature pads in February 2010.

The table below shows the persons who have served the Electoral and Boundaries Commission in the capacity of Chief

Electoral Officer and Deputy Chief Electoral Officer respectively from 1971 to this present day.

 

Name Title Years of service
Mr. Dennis Smith Chief Electoral Officer 1971 – 1991
Mr. Edwin Stroude Chief Electoral Officer 1992 – 1994
Mrs. Mersada Elcock Chief Electoral Officer 1994 – 1996
Mr. Hensley Robinson Chief Electoral Officer 1996 – 2001
Mr. Godfrey Hinds Chief Electoral Officer 2001 – 2002
Mrs. Angela Taylor Chief Electoral Officer 2005 – Present
Mrs. Mersada Elcock Deputy Chief Electoral Officer 1987 – 1994
Mr. Hensley Robinson Deputy Chief Elctoral Officer 1994 – 1996
Mr. Andrew Jones Deputy Chief Electoral Officer 1996 – 1998
Mr. Donville Johnson Deputy Chief Electoral Officer 1998 – 2006
Mr. Arthur Holder Deputy Chief Electoral Officer 2003 – 2004
Mr. Ian Browne Deputy Chief Electoral Officer 2004 – Present