Wed | Aug 23, 2017

ECJ: Respect your vote, it’s your right

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2016 | 2:00 AM
Dorothy Pine-McLarty, chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, and Justice Karl Harrison, selected commissioner.
Earl Jarrett, selected commissioner
Professor Alvin Wint, selected commissioner
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The following is a statement from the independent members of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica

Tomorrow, voters will go to the polls to elect members of parliament and, by extension, an administration to run the affairs of Jamaica for the next five years.

The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) and the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) have been tasked to deliver a smooth and problem-free election, and ensure that:

• No unfair advantage is given to any political party or any candidate contesting an election.

• Along with the security forces and other stakeholders, guard against wrongdoings during elections, to ensure that each elector votes without interference or intimidation,

• Like the others before, is conducted with the highest level of professionalism, run by a well-trained team at every level.

 

ENOUGH WORKERS

 

Additionally, we have adequate numbers of Election Day workers for more than 7,000 polling stations across the 14 parishes, and we have all ballots, ink, ballot boxes, equipment and machinery in place for a well-run February 25 election.

Electors from every strata of society are urged to go out and vote on election day. This is good for our country. This is good for democracy.

We can't be happy with the unacceptably large number of persons who are enumerated but will not vote tomorrow. In the 1970s and 1980s, voter turnout peaked in the region of 80 per cent. Today it is in the 50s and 60s.

Public-opinion polls indicate that close to 50 per cent of the electorate will not vote.

Although, globally, there has been an increase in voter apathy, these are statistics no one should be proud of: not the political

parties; not civil society groups; not the church; not the business community; and not us at the ECJ.

I, therefore, urge all civil society groups, the church and professional associations, to encourage those on the voters list to exercise their democratic right, and vote on election day.

The electoral commission, the electoral office, the police and other stakeholders will do everything possible to guarantee that voters exercise their democratic right freely and in an orderly manner at every single polling station across the country.

All law-abiding citizens of Jamaica must reject and condemn any form of violence or intimidation in the ongoing election campaign and on election day. Speak out today. Raise your voices today.

We commend candidates who have signed the Political Code of Conduct, signalling their commitment for a free, fair and peaceful election.

Remember, we have come a long way in terms of strengthening the voting system and returning confidence and trust in Jamaica's electoral process.

We, therefore, must not, and cannot, allow a few to tarnish the nation's good image and the outstanding transformational work spanning over 30 years. Every Jamaican, every voter, must reject any attempt at wrongdoing in tomorrow's election. Report any scheme or plan to steal ballot boxes or to participate in illegal voting. It is the duty of all of us to protect the electoral system.

Today, Jamaica is a model for the world. Let us not tolerate backward steps. We must defend the integrity of our electoral system.

 

Lest we forget:

 

1. Jamaica was the first to use biometrics (fingerprints) to clean the voters' list and produce a special ID card.

2. Jamaica was the first to use the Electronic Voter Identification and Ballot Issuing System in selected constituencies and voting locations for identification of the voter.

3. Jamaica has made use of technology which improves the accuracy of establishing electoral boundaries.

4. Jamaica has established the Constituted Authority, which facilitates the voiding or halting of polls where certain conditions warrant, and the retaking of polls within 30 days.

We should be proud of these achievements as a people and as a country. We are world leaders in electoral reform. We must safeguard this achievement.

 

Be reminded that on election day: 

 

• Only duly registered electors will vote;

• Each elector will vote once;

• Electors will vote in secret;

• Only electors and prescribed personnel will be allowed to enter polling stations;

• All ballots will be accounted for at the close of poll.

Fellow Jamaicans, 'Respect Your Vote: Your Right, Your Responsibility'.

Keep the peace.