Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Most 'virgin' voters shun polling stations

Published:Friday | November 18, 2016 | 11:00 AMSyranno Baines

Young Jamaicans are turning their backs on the voting process, some citing a failure of the State to address issues of concern to them and others pointing to an overall lack of interest in politics.

Only 12.1 per cent of registered voters ages 18-24 years old voted in the February 25 general election.

The voters' list utilised for the recent general election was published on November 30, 2015 and had a total of 249,404 registered voters for the 18-24 years age bracket. This, therefore, indicates that only a minuscule total of approximately 30,000 cast their ballots.

The current voters' list published on May 31, 2016 by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) shows that 249,210 persons aged 18-24 are registered to vote in the upcoming local government polls, a 0.08 per cent decrease.

Speaking with The Gleaner this week, several prospective virgin voters gave their take on why the vast majority of young adults tend to shun the polling stations even when eligibility is not a factor.

Shantelle Fitten, a 23-year-old mass communications student at the Northern Caribbean University, said: "I'm yet to see the Government implement anything for young people. Student loans killing us, and until changes are made, I won't think of voting."

Twenty-four-year-old Cory Samuels expressed a different view.

He said: "I voted because of family pressures, my people them force me to vote because I was young."

Chenelle Budram, 22-year-old hospitality student of the University of Technology, said: "I would like to vote, but the process to acquire the ID is very lengthy."

 

OPTIMISTIC

 

An upper sixth-form student from the Corporate Area, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "I got the ID the other day, but not planning on using it in the immediate future, not interested in politics."

There was also a strong view among the young people with whom The Gleaner spoke that their voters identification card is merely used as a more practical form of identification while on the move, when compared with passports and for those yet to acquire a driver's licence.

There were also a few neutrals who expressed faith in the younger crop of politicians surfacing in recent times.

Eighteen-year-old high-school graduate Dellano White was optimistic about the new faces on the political scene, stating that "once seasoned, the country's economic fortunes will begin to shift for the better".