Sun | Nov 17, 2019

Chief: Maroons vote without ballots

Published:Tuesday | March 5, 2019 | 12:22 AMGareth Davis/Gleaner Writer

Moore Town, Portland:

With the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) campaigns in full swing in Portland East, the Maroons of Moore Town in the Rio Grande Valley will be among the electorate heading out to cast their ballots on April 4.

The Maroons, who fought gallantly during their quest for freedom in the 19th century against their colonial masters, have always participated in the voting process, and according to colonel of the Moore Town Maroons, Wallace Sterling, this time around will be no different.

The election process in a Maroon community is different from that of the national election, as it does not involve the use of traditional ballots.

“All we need to do is to stand beside the person that one supports and nothing is done secretly or behind closed doors. There is no double counting and no cost to an election like that,” he said.

Sterling told The Gleaner yesterday that Maroons, who are eligible to vote, are expected to cast their ballots in a by-election to be contested between Ann-Marie Vaz of the JLP and Damion Crawford of the PNP, to elect a new member of parliament (MP) for Portland East.

“From the longest times that I can remember or even long before my time, the people have always participated in a general election in Jamaica,” said Sterling.

“Parish council elections, parochial or whatever term was given to it at the time have always been supported by the Maroons. Persons are free and we have never said to anyone not to participate in an election, as this is a free choice. The colonel that I succeeded was a senator for the JLP, and there have been persons who have represented the Rio Grande division in the parish council.”

According to Sterling, Maroons usually cast their ballots based on family tradition, but was quick to point out that individual determination also influences voting trends.

“In a household, there might be a situation where wife will support one party and the husband might support the other. This, however, does not bring any conflict or hostility throughout the Maroon community.”

Vaz or Crawford, who are expected to be the only two candidates on nomination day, March 15, will fill the void left by then MP, Dr Lynvale Bloomfield, who was brutally murdered on February 2.