Thu | Dec 13, 2018

Urgent fixing needed in the electoral process

Published:Monday | February 29, 2016 | 12:00 AM


The 2016 election, or should I say the voting process, is behind us. It was relatively an incident-free process and we give thanks that civility appears to be stepping in.

But, as I made my way to the polling station there was an uneasy feeling that there are some things that cost nothing, except a ruling from the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) that must be changed post haste.

Of major concern to me is the gathering of members of both parties with persons decked out in party colours and paraphernalia at the entrance of polling stations. And, I noticed that this year it got a little more sophisticated with white covered tents on either side of the entrance gate of the polling station that I voted. What purpose does this serve? Well, if it is an intimidatory tactic of both parties it has had that impact on some persons.

In this day of advanced technology, an EOJ officer is assigned to each polling station with computer access to the voters list. And if that was not enough, there are members of both parties identified by their green or orange shirt with a copy of the voters? list within the precinct of the polling station.

Furthermore, I believe most political representatives printed and delivered voters? guide for persons in their constituency. So I ask again, what is the purpose of the throng of party sympathisers who I understand gather before the polls are opened and remain even after the polls are closed? In my opinion, this is an unnecessary layer, a layer not created by the EOJ but one that is within its powers to dialogue with both political parties and have it removed.

Additionally, as it relates to politics, Jamaicans are so distrusting and I ask the EOJ, why do you continue to facilitate the distrust of the genuineness of the numbers that are pulled from the ballot boxes? Why do we continue with the use of padlocks as the security measure to protect the boxes? What of seals instead of padlocks? Seals are less costly than padlocks and provide a higher level of protection and should therefore provide more comfort to the doubting ?Thomases?. Aren?t we all tired of hearing that elections were stolen via the ballot boxes?

We are indeed happy for the positive strides that we have made in our electoral process, but there are still some simple, not costly or relatively inexpensive changes that we must make.

Pat Williams