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Letter of the day: Take a better look at voter apathy

Published:Monday | September 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM


Dorothy Pine-McLarty, chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ), was seen on television on Thursday, September 24, bemoaning the unacceptably high level of voter apathy currently plaguing Jamaica.

She rightly said that the situation is deeply troubling and poses a real threat to our established democracy. I hope that the people of Jamaica have no intention of allowing the country to lapse into dictatorship and totalitarianism before we begin to value our democratic tradition and treat it as sacrosanct.

Mrs Pine-McLarty, unfortunately, did not posit a view about how we arrived where we are or give some enlightenment as to the warning signals which, as a country, we need to heed in order to reverse the trend.

Simply encouraging people to vote despite their lack of conviction, or worse, against their will, is in itself not very democratic,

particularly in Jamaica, where the electorate hardly see themselves as stakeholders in the process.

I wish to inform Mrs Pine-McLarty that I would be minded to start a new political party to widen the political landscape and shore up democracy by means of expanding choice and diversity. However, it would be helpful if the very ECJ, of which Mrs Pine-McLarty is chairman, could perhaps take a deeper look at the staggering and prohibitive costs to register a new political party. Also, that the ECJ should consider ground rules which can help to prevent the established parties from choking any new party that would expose them to unwelcome competition.

I am not sure what is the remit of the ECJ in this regard and what will or will not taint it; but, Mrs Pine-McLarty, having broken her silence on the issue, needs to commit to a lot more in creating a better sphere of understanding of what is a seminal issue.

Derrick D. Simon