Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Weed out party hangers-on from election day

Published:Tuesday | November 29, 2016 | 11:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I have asked this question on numerous occasions and have received no plausible answers: What purpose does the party affiliates/throng serve outside a polling station on election days?

I went to vote Monday morning and the entrance to the cluster of polling stations was decorated with persons clad in green and orange. And, depending on which side of the road you make your entry, you sure will get someone seeking to find out whether or not you are okay.

This is very intimidatory and I can't see the purpose such gatherings serve in this technology age. I listened to the comments as I slowly walked by one camp and it appeared that persons are politically stigmatised by the camp they stopped to get information.

For persons who are not clear where their polling station is located, there are several persons on the inside to assist - the party reps who patrol the grounds, in party colours (an identification I find unnecessary) and the reps from the Electoral Office Of Jamaica (EOJ). Interestingly, the reps from the EOJ are armed with handheld devices and with the click of a button, the information is at their fingertips.

I am beginning to wonder if this is an extension of the long-held tradition of the 'eat-a-food' mentality that has been a cancer to our progress as a nation. As I am reliably informed, these persons are paid and fed for the day.

The other aspect of the process that I find annoying is persons turning up at my gate dressed in party paraphernalia checking if I have already voted and whether I needed a ride to the polling station. These are persons I have never met before.

I stumbled upon a quote sometime ago which is so apt for our political process: "Voting is a right, not a duty and not a moral obligation. A country does not need voters who have to be cajoled, enticed, or persuaded to cast a ballot. A country needs voters who wish to participate in the process."

The EOJ needs to step in and eliminate these additional steps that are sometimes a deterrent to persons who truly want to exercise their right to vote.

PAT WILLIAMS BIGNALL

wilbig@cwjamaica.com