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OAS Mission Recommends Limits on Outdoor Agents At Polling Stations

Published:Saturday | February 27, 2016 | 12:01 AM


The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organisation of American States (EOM/OAS/) which was invited by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) to observe the 2016 general elections has cited the use of outdoor agents as an area of concern.

Delivering the preliminary report on the elections held on Thursday, Janet Bostwick, chief of mission, recommended that limits be placed on the number of outdoor agents that each party is allowed at any given polling station.

Outdoor agents are political workers who are stationed outside polling stations.

Sections 41 and 41a of the Representation of the People Act give the right to each candidate to appoint an indoor agent and an outdoor agent, to watch the proceedings at each polling station on his or her behalf. The agents are able to gather information on the electors who turn up at the polling station which, in turn, can be attributed to the candidate.

Bostwick has made observations about the number of agents being used by candidates.

"In light of the large numbers of outside agents present outside polling stations for both of the major political parties, as well as the significant imbalances that existed at times between the two, consideration should be given to limiting the number of agents that can be present within 100 yards of the polling station," she said at a post-election press briefing.

Outdoor agents generally serve the purpose of confirming the names of voters on the voter's list and informing them on where they are to vote.

The OAS mission, however, believes that the posting of the voter's list outside polling stations could limit the need for a large number of outdoor agents.

"While OAS observers noted that most voters had the necessary information on where to cast their votes, and were assisted in this regard by the electoral authorities as well as party agents, the EOM suggests that posting the voter's list outside of each polling station," Bostwick said.

According to the OAS mission, the posting of the voter's list at polling stations, "would enhance the delivery and transparency of the voting process."