JIS News

The House of Representatives on (July 10) approved amendments to three election bills, recommended by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, which among other things, address the imposition of sanctions against persons who deliberately display their ballots.
The bills are the Representation of the People Act, the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation Act and the Parish Council Act.
Leader of Government Business in the House, Dr. Peter Phillips, read a letter from the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, which endorsed an amendment by the Senate to the bills. “This letter clears the way for me to recommend to this House that the amendment moved in the Senate be adopted,” said Dr. Phillips.
The Commission had initially proposed a mandatory minimum sentence for open voting, but the Senate, at its June 15 sitting, proposed that the punishment should instead, be left to the discretion of a judge, and for the Representation of the People Act 2007 to be amended, to reflect the proposal.
The Electoral Commission, in a report to Parliament, recommended that all other sections of the three Acts, where mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines are prescribed, be similarly changed so that consistency is maintained throughout the three Acts.
“Having accepted the report, we will be in a position to have Cabinet issue drafting instructions to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel so that the necessary amendments, which flow from the acceptance of this report, can be moved,” Dr. Phillips said. In his remarks, Opposition Member of Parliament for St. Andrew North Central, Karl Samuda, said he was pleased that the matter has being settled.
In the meantime, Member of Parliament for St. Andrew North Eastern, Delroy Chuck, said that open voting is a matter that concerns Jamaicans as it has been a matter of contention.
“Especially in our inner city communities, there is going to be serious difficulties as they feel that they must openly show everyone how they vote. I can only hope that the presiding officers and the Electoral Commission will guide the voters that under this law, there is a penalty and nobody wants to impose this penalty,” Mr. Chuck said.
He added that “all we are asking for is that voting should be done in proper democratic fashion, and I hope that this Act and the penalties that we are going to be imposing, that none will be applied for the next general elections.”
Persons, who breach the Acts in regard to open voting, will be subject to a fine not exceeding $80,000 or to imprisonment to a term not exceeding five years or to both such fine or imprisonment.

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