The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ), fortified by a budget of some $900 million, is reporting that all is in place for the March 26 Local Government Elections.
The upcoming elections, to allow for political representation in 228 divisions in the 63 constituencies island-wide, take place just under three months after the December 29, 2011 General Elections.
The voters’ list for the election will comprise 1,648,020 registered voters, the same number that obtained on the November 30, 2011 voters' list used in last year’s polls.
Chairman of the ECJ, Professor Errol Miller, addressing a media briefing on March 14 at the ECJ's Red Hills Road location, informed that some 6,630 polling stations have been secured (one less than that for the General Election) in 2,191 polling locations.
He advised that of the 362 “upstairs” locations used in December, only 162 will be used on March 26, due to the fact that infirm and disabled persons would have difficulty accessing these facilities. He also advised that measures will be in place to assist those with special needs.
In order to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of the voting exercise, the number of tents used will be limited to 45 compared to 145 used in December.
Other security features, such as the banning of mobile phones in polling booths and the prohibition of open voting, will be enforced.
With respect to Election Day workers, Professor Miller said despite a reduction in the pool of potential workers, due to the fact that “tertiary students were now in school and in examination mode”, the ECJ has been able to adequately identify and train the personnel in addition to the corps of suitable repeat workers.
He noted further that issues that arose in a “St. James constituency” in the wake of the General Elections are being addressed in order to protect the integrity of the system.
On Thursday (March 15), there will be a simulation of the electronic voter identification system, which will be utilised in a limited number of divisions on Election Day.
On March 21, three days clear of the national polls, the security forces as well as Election Day workers will cast their vote.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter