Voices of youth parliamentarians (Pt II)
Reformation of the Electoral System
Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Renaldo Ramsay:
"Shambles! The selection of election dates is in shambles. The preparedness of polling stations is in shambles. The effective engagement of Election Day workers is in shambles. Mr. Speaker, the overall hosting of our elections is in shambles.
"Planning of an election is no easy task, let alone to plan for both a national and local government election which are so close together.... For fixed, same day elections to be efficient in Jamaica Mr. Speaker, the time line can be set for the elections of 2031. In doing same, we propose that the government does the following; revisit the feasibility paper that the EOJ submitted to them years ago; amend the Municipality Act, the Parish Council Act, the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation Act, and the Representation of the People Act, to force the legislative framework for these new processes; the creation of two color-coded ballots and color-coded ballot boxes, one for local government votes and the other for national votes.
"The electorate of Portmore elected both their mayor and Member of Parliament at the same time and that was successful. All we need to do now is replicate this on a national level."
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Donovan Hanson Jr. :
"We ask our policy makers to seriously consider merging both general and local government elections to alleviate the burden on the hardworking taxpayers of our beloved country.
"Mr. Speaker, it is well documented that in 2016, the country spent $2 billion in hosting two elections... Conversely, the president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Warren MacDonald, at the time, in collaboration with the ECJ (Electoral Commission of Jamaica), stated that if both elections were merged, this beloved country would have saved $1.5 billion.
"Mr. Speaker, our stance is clear and it is rather explicit, our leaders need to stop destroying our country with these fiscally irresponsible acts.
We urge our policymakers that the next time the country goes to the polls which is 2021 constitutionally due, that the long suffering taxpayers of this country are given a break Mr. Speaker."
Kevaughn Knight, opposition spokesman on national security:
"It is imperative that we improve mechanisms of voting which will ensure time and cost efficiency. The Youth Parliament proposes that e-voting be explored as a means of addressing the various challenges facing our current electoral process.
"Mr. Speaker, E-voting despite its potential for identity theft and electronic ballot manipulation, can be introduced and effectively work if proper project planning and system development are paired with vigorous risk assessments during and after the implementation stages. Mr. Speaker, this youth parliament believes that e-voting will spur the interest of Jamaica's youth."