Fri | Aug 18, 2017

#PNPelections: Voting kicks off under tight security

Published:Saturday | September 17, 2016 | 9:16 AM
Dr Karl Blythe greets a supporter at the National Arena as voting gets underway.
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Jovan Johnson, Staff Reporter‎

Voting has started at the People's National Party (PNP) presidential and vice-presidential elections at the National Arena under tight security.

PNP chairman Robert Pickersgill declared the proceedings opened minutes before 10 o'clock, the scheduled start.

It is the largest security detail present at an internal party elections in years.

The Gleaner arrived minutes after 9 o'clock this morning observing at least 80 Jamaica Constabulary Force members taking instructions from superiors.

More than a dozen more were seen manning sections of the grounds.

Dr Karl Blythe is challenging incumbent Portia Simpson Miller for the presidency.

Meanwhile, Dr Wykeham McNeill, Dr Fenton Ferguson, Dr Angela Brown Burke, Noel Arscott, and Lisa Hanna will be contesting for four vice-presidential positions.

Minutes before polling opened, the party's internal director of elections, Julian Robinson, confirmed the six nominations.

"Based on the directions from the NEC (National Executive Council) those are the nominations. We are now going to proceed to the election of the president and the four vice presidents," he said.

About 3,400 delegates are expected to vote in the elections.

Meanwhile, all five vice presidential candidates have erected tents for the screening of delegates before they can proceed to the voting area where further screening is done by the Electoral Office of Jamaica.

Some tents appeared livelier than others with incumbent vice president Arscott showing the least number of individuals whether delegates or supporters.

The tents of Hanna and Brown Burke, meanwhile showed the highest level of organisation up to the start of voting.

Delegates and supporters of candidates were wearing t-shirts and arm bands with the images and names of their candidates as they danced to the music from several sound systems.

Voting will take place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Results are expected by 7 o'clock this evening.

The elections open the 78th conference of the party hit by a series of scandals.