Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Proper voting education needed

Published:Tuesday | March 1, 2016 | 3:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The 2016 general election, though incident-free, for the most part, will go down in history as one of the most confusing. Confusing perhaps not to the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) but to the voters.

I am alarmed that the EOJ is throwing the blame on the voters that they literally ignored the instructions given by presiding officers and then went behind the screens and marked the ballot incorrectly. I really believe, based on my experience, that some of the presiding officers were ignorant of the correct procedure. I specifically asked the presiding officer - the information was never volunteered to me - and his response "to the right or left of the symbol that you are selecting".

Now that the confusion is ranging about who voted on the wrong side of the symbol, I spent some time rationalising his instructions and came to the conclusion that this may or should have been the correct instruction, since there was no check box on the ballot. And, more important, the critical part of voting and checking back of the votes is the clear intention of the voter.

Why are we using technicalities to determine whether a vote was cast correctly or incorrectly when we can clearly determine the intent of the voter? This is tantamount to silencing the voice of the voters on both sides of the divide.

How many such ballots were thrown out because of incorrect instructions? I really believe that the EOJ must take the lead in the education process or it needs to reinforce the correct procedure, if ever there was one.

PAT WILLIAMS BIGNALL

wilbig@cwjamaica.com