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 initally 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 qualifications for voting was primarily property ownership, however, on June 6, 1950, a Bill was passed in the House of Assembly to amend the Representation of the People Act. The bill abolished the property qualification for membership of the General Assembly and introduction adult suffrage, thereby granting the franchise to every member of the population, twenty one (21) years old and over, to vote for members of the House of Assembly and on October 22, 1963 the francise was extended to persons eighteen (18) years and over.
Under the Representation of the People Act Cap 12 Sec. 13(1), the Commission is required to prepare and to publish, not later than the 31st day of January in every year, a Register of Electors for each constituency and a register of Foreign Service electors entitled to vote at any election.
Chief Electoral Officers
- Mr. Dennis Smith 1971-1991
- Mr. Edwin Stroude 1992-1994
- Mrs. Mersada Elcock 1994-1996
- Mr. Hensley Robinson 1996-2001
- Mr. Godfrey Hinds 2001-2002
- Mr. Hensley Robinson 2002-2004
- Mrs. Angela Taylor 2005-present
Deputy Chief Electoral Officers
- Mrs. Mersada Elcock 1987-1994
- Mr. Hensley Robinson 1994-1996
- Mr. Andrew Jones 1996-1998
- Mr. Donville Johnson 1998-2006
- Mr. Arthur Holder 2003-2004
- Mr. Ian Browne 2004-Present
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 Millington 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.
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 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 Office 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 General Elections at which persons eighteen 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 Septemeber 2, 1976 General Elections were conducted.
With the assistance of the Data Processing and Statistical Service Departments, the national Registration System and the Voters Registration System were computerized from April 1, 1989, 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 without the assistance of the Data Processing Department, for the first time.
In 2009, digital cameras were introduced and with the use of laptop computers, the computerizing of the registration service from Constituency Registration Centres began. This was followed by the introduction of digital signature pads in February 2010.