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ECJ wants staggering of appointment of the selected commissioners

Published:Monday | September 14, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton
Dorothy Pine-McLarty (left), chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, makes a point to selected commissioner, Justice Karl Harrison, during a press briefing at the commission’s Red Hills Road, St Andrew, office.

Citing the need for continuity and to preserve institutional memory, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) has asked Parliament to amend the law to allow for the staggering of

the appointment of selected


The ECJ, in a report to Parliament on the 'Proposal to Amend Electoral Commission (Interim) Act, 2006, to allow for Flexibility/Staggering of Appointment of the selected Commissioners' said there was a danger that all selected commissioners could be new people.

At present, selected commissioners serve for a period of seven years. The report to Parliament noted that the appointment of all selected commissioners last ended on November 13, 2013.

The appointment of selected commissioners and the director of elections is for a seven-year period while the nominated commissioners are appointed for four years.

The ECJ wants the law to be amended to say the selected commissioners should be appointed to a period not exceeding seven years, and that at one instance two of the selected commissioners shall be appointed for a period not exceeding five years.

"It is the view of the commission that this change will provide certain flexibility allowing for the appointments of selected commissioners to be made for different periods of up to seven years," the ECJ said.

The ECJ is made up of nine commissioners, four of whom are appointed by the governor general after consultations with the leader of the Opposition and the prime minister.

The selected commissioners are Justice Karl Harrison, Professor Alvin Wint, Earl Jarrett and Dorothy Pine-McLarty.

Commissioners new

With the exception of Pine McLarty, all of the selected commissioners are new. Jarrett was appointed commissioner in March 2013 to fill a vacancy left by Professor Errol Miller, who resigned on December 31, 2012 after 12 years at the helm of the commission.

Wint and Harrison were appointed in March 2013 to replace Dr Herbert Thompson and Justice Clarence Walker, who were not available for appointment.

"The clear disadvantage inherent in a continuation in force of the prevailing arrangement is a lack of continuity in the work of a commission comprised of new members not having had the advantage of direct knowledge or experience in the operation of the commission or, perhaps, in electoral matters," the ECJ said in its report to Parliament.

It argued that if a mechanism to stagger the term of appointment of commissioners were to be adopted, this would ensure a smooth transition at all times and the maintenance and preservation of the institutional memory of the commission.