Current Affairs

Current Affairs




'Special' presiding officers for garrisons
Observer Reporter
Friday, September 20, 2002



WESTERN BUREAU -- Orrette Fisher, an assistant director at the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ), has said 'special' presiding officers will be working in garrison constituencies in the upcoming general election in an effort to prevent electoral malpractice.

"We have recruited what we call "specialist presiding officers" (to work in the garrison constituencies) and they are mainly electoral office workers," he told a Rotary Club of Montego Bay meeting on Tuesday.

Fisher said the workers will be transported into the constituencies on election day and will be responsible for conducting the polls.

In recent general elections, there have been charges of electoral fraud and violence in several garrison constituencies, which have thwarted the rights of voters to cast their ballots freely.

Last week, director of elections, Danville Walker warned candidates in eight constituencies, which have had a history of electoral malpractice, that the EOJ was prepared to declare seats void, if it detects any malpractice in any constituency during the upcoming general election.

He identified the troubled seats as:

* West Central St Andrew;

* South East St Andrew;

* Western St Andrew;

* Central Kingston;

* South St Catherine;

* South West St Catherine;

* South Central St Catherine, and

* Eastern St Andrew.

Fisher told the Rotarians that he was confident that use of the "special" presiding officer in these constituencies would prevent electoral malpractice.

He told the meeting that the EOJ has also put in place a number of other measures that will ensure a free and fair general election.

These include:

* the cross matching of fingerprints of each potential voter on the list;

* the agreement of the polling stations by the candidates long in advance of the election day;

* training of the police and the military;

* mailing of voters' guide to the over 1.3 million persons on the voting list, and

* recruitment of 25,000 persons needed to work in the polling stations on election day.

Fisher, at the same time, urged members of the Rotary Club to consider giving their service to the EOJ.

"The (electoral) system needs persons like yourself who are able to put country above self and above party. I think that you owe it to yourselves and your children to make sure that the electoral system returns to and remains something that we all can be proud of," he said.