Shelly-Ann Thompson, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Election-day workers tend to a 'voter' as he is fingerprinted yesterday at an assimilation exercise of the electronic voter identification and ballot-issuing system, which was conducted at the Kingston Technical High School on Hanover Street in Kingston, yesterday. - Junior Dowie/Staff Photographer
Some 400 election-day workers yesterday tested and tried the identification and ballot issuing system, ahead of a general election, which pundits say will be held this summer.
The workers, clad in tagged overalls, positioned around flat- screen computers and fingerprinting machines, occupied several classrooms of the Kingston Technical High School on Hanover Street in Kingston.
Just like it should be on the next general election day, constitutionally due by October 2007, some of those on the voters' list cast their ballots.
Elvis Wilson, logistics coordinator of the Electoral Commission, said that the day's assimilation exercise was to identify possible glitches of the electronic voter identification and ballot- issuing system. Seven constituencies of the Corporate Area, including Kingston Central, and one in St. Catherine were simulated.
"This is to make sure the system works and works efficiently - getting rid of the kinks out of the system," explained Mr. Wilson. "The only difference is that today, the voters are not actually putting an 'X' beside a party's name. On the ballot sheet we instead used symbols such as a desk or a chair," he added.
The Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) introduced the ballot-issuing system in some constituencies during the last general election.
Under the system, registered electors will be identified and verified at the polling station by using their fingerprints, after which the system will issue authenticated ballots for voting. The elector will then proceed as before to mark the 'X' with a pencil on the paper ballot issued.
The main objectives of the system, said the EOJ, are to prevent impersonation of an elector, multiple voting by persons and the use ofunauthenticated ballots.
One of the workers, Tashina Tucker, said that the day's exercise was almost glitch free. "The system is basically fool-proof. We only experienced a few glitches and my system was down for about 15 minutes. But everything is now progressing smoothly," said Ms. Tucker.
An assimilation exercise, said Wilson, was planned for every month leading up to the election. This exercise was the second for the Corporate Area, and plans are well afoot for St. James.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is yet to announce the date for holding the general election; however, preparations continue in earnest.
The ruling People's National Party's (PNP) National Executive Council (NEC) will be meeting at the Ebony Park HEART Academy in Clarendon today, where general secretary Donald Buchanan will report on the party's organisational and electoral readiness.
The PNP's campaign director, Dr. Paul Robertson, is also scheduled to update the NEC on campaign matters, while Prime Minister Simpson Miller will give the main address.