My fellow Jamaicans:
This Thursday, December 29, 2011 is a very special day in the life of our country. It is the day on which the sovereign people elect their representatives to form the Government for the next five years. Our forebears fought hard and sacrificed much to gain this right to vote in order to decide on who should form the Government.
In honour of their sacrifice, and possessed of a sense of duty to Jamaica land we all love, the Electoral Commission urges every registered elector to go the polls and cast your vote for the Candidate of your choosing.
One of the solid achievements of Jamaica in independence has been a stable democracy and an electoral system that delivers free and fair elections. Each General Election in our recent past has been an improvement over the previous one. We expect and have planned for this to be trend to continue on December 29th. It is only by conducting elections that conform to the highest standard of democracy that those elected to Parliament are assured the right to govern with legitimacy and credibility.
The Electoral Commission thanks the hard working and efficient Director and staff of the Electoral Office for the tremendous job that they have done in getting the electoral machinery ready for this election. The Commission also thanks all those who have offered themselves, been trained and appointed as Election Day Workers. You are the face of the Commission that electors will see on Election Day. I ask our Election Day Workers to abide by the following guidelines:
Treat all electors and the appointed agents of Candidates with respect.
Give each person their proper title.
Use Standard English in addressing each elector. English is the official language of the country and Election Day is an official event and occasion.
Carry out the rules of voting courteously and pleasantly but with firmness and fairness.
Retain your composure under all circumstances and at all times.
Be careful and competent in carrying out the various procedures starting with opening the polling station on time at 7.00 am and ending with the counting of the ballots, Close of Poll Procedures and the delivery of the Ballot Boxes to the Counting Centre with the Statement of the Poll displayed on the outside of the Ballot Box.
The Commission is mindful of the fact that Indoor Agents, Outdoor Agents, Liaison Officers of Candidates, Local and International Observers are important partners in the electoral process that ensures free and fair elections. We are depending on you to execute your various assigned duties by adhering strictly to the law and performing your different roles carefully and honestly.
The Commission wishes to remind everyone of a few very important points:
Check to see if you are on the November 30, 2011 Voters List. You can do this by checking the copy of the Voters List at the nearest Post Office or by logging into the Electoral Commission Website at www.ecj.com.jm or by calling the Electoral Office at 1-888-991-VOTE (8683) or by checking with the Constituency Office in the area in which you live.
If you are not on the November 30, 2011 Voters List, you will not be entitled to Vote and will not be allowed to vote. Do not even bother to go to any Polling Station. It will be a waste of your time.
Every Elector who is on the November 30, 2011 Voters List is entitled to vote and will be allowed to vote, notwithstanding any objections. The Electoral Commission urges you to conduct yourself with dignity and decorum in the polling station and its precincts. Remember voting is a royal process exercised by a sovereign people.
Each Elector should take the time to find his or her Voter Identification Card. Remember to take that Voter ID Card with you to the polling station. This will enable you to vote quickly. The Representation of the People Act allows electors to vote without their ID Cards but in that case the particular electors have to swear to or affirm their identities and be fingerprinted. This takes much more time. Like all other rules governing the electoral system it will be enforced without exception and without regard to whether or not the Presiding Officers know you personally.
Disabled electors will vote in the same manner as Blind electors. You can take a friend to vote for you. However, once the friend has assisted you that friend cannot assist another Disabled or Blind Voter. Make sure beforehand that your friend is not also assisting someone else to vote.
The vote in Jamaica is secret. You will vote behind booths that will not allow others to see how you vote. Fold your ballot properly before handing it to the Presiding Officer. Once the counterfoil is removed from the Ballot it cannot be traced back to you. Do not show the persons in the Polling Station how you have voted. If you do so your ballot will be spoiled by the Presiding Officer and if you do it a second time not only will the ballot be spoiled but you will be guilty of a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment.
The use of cellular phones and digital cameras are strictly prohibited in the Polling Stations. If you are seen using any of these in the Polling Stations it will be assumed that you are carrying out an illegal action related to either bribery or intimidation. This will get you into trouble at a later date. Be warned. Do not use cell phones or digital cameras in the Polling Stations.
Generally candidates urge all electors to vote early. The resources of the Commission will not allow everybody in a polling station to vote in the first two or three hours after polling stations are opened at 7.00 am. So while we would not discourage you from voting early, do not be surprised if you have to join a line and wait.
If you arrive at the Polling Station and join a line of Voters before the close of the Poll at 5.00 pm you will be allowed to vote. However, this will not apply if you come one minute after 5.00 pm.
The Electronic Identification of the Voter and Ballot Issuing System, EIVBIS, will be used in eight constituencies: six fully and two partially. This system identifies the elector electronically and issues the ballot to the elector. The EIVBIS system is being used in thirteen urban constituencies in the Parishes of Kingston, St Andrew, and St Catherine. The Electoral Office has carried out several simulation exercises in these constituencies to allow voters to become familiar with the system and to work out all the logistical and technical issues. Do not be mistaken. This is not an Electronic Voting System as some say. It is an electronic identification and ballot issuing system. The ballots issued by this system are exactly like the ballots issued manually and are marked, counted and recounted just like all other ballots.
Some persons still remember malpractices of the past and assume that these practices continue. Accordingly the fears of the past have been translated into very pessimistic and even alarming expectations of what will happen on Election Day. Over advice is to dismiss these fears. Leave memories malpractices of the increasingly distant past behind in history where they belong. Come into the present where elections are conducted impartially and according to law.
To the misguided few who may be tempted to engage in illegal or corrupt practices let there be no doubt whatsoever. The laws are clear. Elections must not take place in circumstances of riot, civil disturbance and open violence. Candidates must not win elections by fraud, violence or intimidation. The electoral laws will be enforced without fear or favour. Energies and efforts devoted to corrupt and illegal activities will be futile and bring nothing but grief to those involved. Those who have ears to hear let them hear!
The Electoral Commission exhorts every candidate, all political parties, all those who work in the Elections and each elector to put your best foot forward in performing your different and several duties on Election Day.
Let us make every effort to motivate and mobilise all electors to vote on Election Day.
Let us conduct the Elections competently, observing the highest ethical standards of fairness and justice.
Let respect, peace and good order prevail.
Let us be patient and gentle with each other even if mistakes are made.
Let us all accept the results as the voice of the sovereign people individually expressed but collectively binding on all who contended for their votes.
In the name of our heroine and heroes and with the resolve of all well thinking Jamaicans let us commit to make Jamaica stand tall in the world as we demonstrate that as a country and people we abide by the principles of the rule of law, government by consent of the governed and the right of every adult to elect their representative in free and fair elections.
God Bless Jamaica land we love