Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Don't Try it! Electoral officials warn against vote buying

Published:Saturday | November 19, 2016 | 11:00 AMEdmond Campbell

Allegations that some candidates and their campaign teams are planning to embark on a vote-buying scheme in the upcoming local government elections, have prompted head of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) Dorothy Pine McClarty to warn electors that any such practice could land them in jail as it is a criminal offence.

She told The Gleaner yesterday that if someone suspects that vote-buying is being done, the police should be called in and provided with a statement on the matter.

According to Pine McClarty, there are provisions in the Representation of the People Act that prescribe stiff penalties for vote-buying.

However, the ECJ head explained that the commission would not get involved at this stage. However, if an elector turns up to vote with ink on his finger, the staff of the Electoral Office of Jamaica would call the police to investigate the matter.

She cautioned electors not to get involved in this illegal practice.

Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown yesterday warned Jamaicans that vote-buying constitutes a serious breach of the Agreement and Declaration on the Political Code of Conduct and the country's electoral rules.

Parchment Brown divulged that she had received reports that candidates and their campaign teams taking steps to hijack the political process.

"It has been brought to my attention - and this is a matter of great concern - that there is some intelligence of the prospect of vote-buying in different places in Jamaica. What it is anticipated is that people may pay somebody money to have them put their finger in ink ... and what will happen is that on election day, they can't vote because their finger already has something on it," she said.

Continuing, Parchment Brown said: "If you hear any of your supporters, colleagues, [or] anyone attempting to distort our democracy, to take choice away from people, please say or do something about it."

She said the move is allegedly a desperate attempt to secure victory in the November 28 local government polls.

Parchment Brown declared that under no circumstance is vote-buying condoned.

The political ombudsman said she has been reliably informed that candidates could resort to manipulating the voting process in marginal divisions.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com