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JIS News

The Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) has received commendation from the Citizens Action for Free and Fair Election (CAFFE), for its role in ensuring a fair election on August 27.
Expressing high praise for their work, Chairman, Dr. Lloyd Barnett said that, “a lot of improvements have been implemented and the EOJ has done a very good job.”
In fact, Dr. Barnett said some of the recommendations made by CAFFE have been implemented by the EOJ. “The general quality of election officers, for instance, has been improved greatly because they are better trained,” he noted, explaining that there were times when the persons who served as election officers were ‘partisan’. This, he said, has largely been eliminated and as such, the standard is much higher.
Since its inception, CAFFE has observed two general elections – in 1997 and 2002. On both occasions, reports were published containing a review of the process and recommendations. “This is important because based on our observations, we make recommendations for improving the system, so that in each of our reports we have a chapter that deals with the things that we think should be improved,” Dr. Barnett noted.
This year, however, minor changes will be made to some of the forms to be completed by the volunteers. Dr. Barnett explained that slight variations were made to clarify or treat with new situations. “For instance, (for) those polling stations which will have the electronic voter identification system, we will have special questions relating to that,” the Chairman explained.
In addition to observing general elections, he informed that CAFFE also observed local government elections in 1998 and 2003, special elections, “where elections have been cancelled in a division, or constituency, like South West St. Andrew,” and bi-elections.
“We have observed elections for even the National Students Council, who invited us.Any organization that has an election for which they need observation, then we will do it,” he said.
Meanwhile, CAFFE will be observing “very carefully” the use of offensive and aggressive language by persons who are campaigning. “We are also watching and monitoring that the campaign is being conducted in accordance with the law and the code of ethics,” he said firmly.
“We have a mission that the whole electoral process should be in accordance with the highest principles and traditions,” Dr. Barnett added.
CAFFE was formed in 1997 as a response to concerns about the integrity of the electoral processes. As a non-governmental organization it receives funding from international agencies, in addition to corporate entities and private individuals.