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turnout islandwide - Pre-June 19 polls marred by voters' list
MEMBERS OF the security forces and Election Day workers yesterday
cast their ballots ahead of the June 19 Local Government elections
in polls marred by several glitches.
the day, voting crept along at a snail's pace, with most eligible
voters staying away from the polls. The low voter turnout,
which usually accompanies Local Government elections, was
made worse by heavy rains which pelted the island during the
from across the country, however, indicated that voting was
peaceful and orderly from the opening of polls at 8 a.m. to
the close at 4 p.m. At Mobile Reserve in Kingston, which is
the main polling station for police officers in the Corporate
Area, voting moved along with few problems.
St. Elizabeth, returning officer for South East St. Elizabeth,
Basil Bennett, said that all four polling stations in the
constituency were opened on time and voting went smoothly.
must tell you we have no hitches in this constituency, all
those who were involved have co-operated with the procedures.
The voter turnout was low to moderate," Mr. Bennett told
there were instances of chaos and confusion as voters, particularly
police officers, complained that their names were left off
the voters' list. The ballots for many of the officers were
sent to locations where they do not normally vote.
NOT ON LIST
St. Catherine South Police Divisional Headquarters in Greater
Portmore, several policemen fussed over being excluded from
the list. By 3 p.m., one hour before the close of polls, just
over 30 persons had come to the voting centre at which 80
were listed to vote.
Cleary, election observer from Citizens' Action for Free and
Fair Elections (CAFFE), said only eight persons were allowed
to vote as the others learned that their names were not on
voted here for the (October 16) General Election, so I don't
know why my name is not on the list now," said an angry
Corporal Charley Williamson.
several police officers who turned up at the courthouse in
Port Antonio also complained bitterly when they were told
that their names were not on the list.
was the order of the day at the Black River Police Station
in St. Elizabeth, where more than 40 police personnel could
not find their names on the voters' list when they turned
up to cast their ballots.
James, Westmoreland and Trelawny, there were no major problems
but voter turnout was very low. Electoral officials estimated
that voter turnout did not exceed 40 per cent.
Walker, Director of Elections and head of the Electoral Office
of Jamaica (EOJ), explained that the "hiccup" could
have been the result of a breakdown in communication between
the Police High Command and the EOJ. He said that three months
prior to yesterday's poll the EOJ had sent 270 copies of the
voters' list to the various polling stations, which were also
published in the police Force Orders.
he said, divisional commanders were requested to fill out
specifically designed forms, confirming the location of officers.
However, "What you find is that they (the forms) often
return to the EOJ like we had sent them to the stations,"
In a release
yesterday, the EOJ said that its reports from the field indicated
that voting went well throughout the island. It said, however,
that checks with the 21 polling stations for the police showed
that there was a mix-up as to where some officers should vote.
of the security forces the police and the military
usually vote a few days ahead of Election Day so as to be
available for their peacekeeping duties when the rest of the
population goes to the polls.
Day workers, who are full-time or part-time members of the
staff of the EOJ, voted along with the security forces so
they can also be available for duties on June 19.
military personnel, 6,000 police officers and 16,000 Election
Day workers were eligible to cast their vote yesterday. Thursday's
elections are the 13th in the nation's history and will set
back the treasury about $350 million.
candidates have been nominated to contest the polls. The governing
People's National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party
(JLP) fielded a full slate to contest all 227 divisions in
the island's 12 Parish Councils and the Kingston and St. Andrew
Corporation (KSAC). One JLP candidate has since died. Both
parties also put up candidates to contest the seat for mayor
of the newly-created Portmore municipality.
candidates were fielded by the struggling National Democratic
Movement (NDM), four by the Imperial Ethiopian World Federation
Party (IEWFP) and two by the People's Progressive Party (PPP).
Twenty-one independent candidates also took the plunge.