Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
The Secretariat of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has dispatched to the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) a final list of approximately 5,100 delegates who have been registered to vote in the November 10 leadership election between incumbent Andrew Holness and challenger Audley Shaw.
Dr Horace Chang, the head of the JLP Secretariat, has confirmed that it will cost the party between $2.5 million and $3 million to finance the EOJ's administering of the much-anticipated poll.
Chang told The Gleaner that the EOJ would be setting up special communications and other facilities in line with its expertise at the national levels as the secretariat would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the process is fair.
Of the 5,100 delegates registered to vote, 1,007 have been drawn from the 15 constituencies in the Corporate Area that comprise the JLP's Area Council One, in which Holness' West Central St Andrew seat is located.
Another 1,506 delegates have been drawn from Area Council Two, which incorporates the constituencies in St Catherine, St Mary, Portland, and St Thomas. This is the highest of the four area councils.
Area Council Three, which takes in Clarendon, St Ann, and Manchester, where Shaw's North East Manchester seat is located, has 1,121 delegates, with another 1,006 delegates in Area Council Four, where the constituencies of Westmoreland, Hanover, St James, and Trelawny are located.
ALLOCATION OF VOTING RIGHTS
Chang told The Gleaner that the number of delegates in each constituency is determined by one per cent of the total number of votes in the last general election, which would be December 29, 2011, in this case.
He explained that each constituency earns one delegate for each percentage point by which the political opponent is defeated.
Citing his North West St James constituency as an example, Chang said he raked in 6,077 votes to 4,977 for the People's National Party (PNP's) Henry McCurdy in the 2011 general election, which gave him an initial count of 61 delegates.
With the margin of victory being 9.8 per cent, Chang said he earned an additional 10 votes and eight for himself as member of parliament, councillors/caretakers, and constituency chairman that brought his total number of delegates to 79.
Chang said Western Kingston, with its traditionally wide margin of victory from the days of former leader, Edward Seaga, has yielded the highest number of the 63 constituencies. The powerful Western Kingston will be churning out 176 delegates.
"West Kingston would be the highest, and this has been so for a very long time," Chang confirmed.
This is followed by Olivia 'Babsy' Grange's Central St Catherine, with 147 delegates registered to vote in two weeks' time.
The Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, the oldest of the JLP's affiliate organisations, raked in the highest number of delegates from arms of the party: 100.
Chang said other groups with national status such as Generation 2000 have been allotted 40 delegates each, while others based in the Corporate Area such as the National Patriotic Movement are given 20 delegates to exercise their franchise.