Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Letter of the day: The Electoral Office of Jamaica will disenfranchise Jamaicans

Published:Friday | January 1, 2016 | 1:00 AM

 

THE EDITOR, Sir:

In light of the pending elections, though no indication has been given by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller as yet, the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) has begun its warm-up exercises by putting in place its teams and getting things ready for the "gate fly".

A part of their mission for this pending election is to roll out the Electronic Voting and Ballot Issuing System (EVIBIS) which they say will:

1. Prevent impersonation of an elector.

2. Prevent multiple voting by persons

3. Prevent the use of unauthenticated ballots

These reasons are good, but I will have to ask if there were reports during the last two general elections held in Jamaica in 2007 and 2011 that would have prompted the EOJ to this level proactivity? In its plight, the EOJ further says that the E-Voting Machines will embellish the process of "Free and fair" voting in Jamaica. Again, I will ask the EOJ if there were any reports of ballot tampering, voters casting more than one vote or persons turning up to vote that cannot be verified or identified?

The process that already exists is pretty simple and has been used for decades in Jamaica. Whether it be among the affluent or the illiterate in our society, all persons have found the process fairly easy and simple to follow: find out where your polling station is; carry your ID (Voters' ID) Card; follow the instructions of the presiding officer/indoor agents; collect your ballot; put your X beside the name or symbol of your candidate; return to the agents and drop the ballot in sealed ballot boxes.

 

DISENFRANCHISE VOTERS

 

The EOJ and their EVIBIS initiative will disenfranchise thousands of Jamaican voters who are already bemoaning the idea of standing in lines to cast their ballots. Many polling stations have been relocated from their usual and convenient locations to places that are out of reach from voters, all in a bid to facilitate the EVIBIS and its "electrical consumption".

I was hoping never to touch this point, but fearing the worst it has to be said. The EOJ will disenfranchise voters who are not computer literate and would need help accessing the EVIBIS thus making the casting of a "private ballot" not so private at all.

I am urging the political parties contesting the next general elections to represent the people on this wise. If they do not feel comfortable voting and the process is not smooth and somewhat glitch free, if they are in any way shape or form inconvenienced, then there will be trouble at the polls in the areas where the EOJ plans to use the EVIBIS.

Kemar Brown

kemar.a.brown24@gmail.com