You are either part of the system or choosing not to be. The best place your voice can be heard is at the electorate, a process that many of our educated fellowmen refuse to digest. It is their silly belief that it matters naught whether they vote or not. Why speak so passionately about the state of affairs, even having an emotional allegiance to a ‘party’, yet the physical act of casting a vote escapes you? Then we have our fellowmen who voted a few times and have decided it makes no sense to continue to do so. Why and how can one go about changing the minds of those who represent more than 1.3 million of our populous? That is the billion dollar question, and at this time, I opine it is a waste to set about convincing them; not hopeless, but a waste.
The cost is an alarming one in a country such as ours where austerity has taken on a new term for me ie ‘band mi belly so till an now mi nuh ave nuh belly fi band’.
As your figures suggest over the last three (3) elections voter turnout with an eligibility to vote of 1.4 million in 2002, 2007 and 2011, 1.3 million each; there was just on average, over 55% voter turn out in those years. During the late 1970’s-1980’s the highest being 80%. What does that say? It speaks volumes and I say enough of the groaning and chastisement of those who simply don’t care about what it means to be able to cast a vote. History cannot be forced, worse unto a people who enough are educated beyond grad school. Do not make preparations for a 100% voter turn out. Who says you must continue to do so? In this case shooting for the stars is not going to cut it. Shoot for the mango tree, and budget for a voter turn out of 40%. We cannot afford to waste what we do not have. If you surpass this range, then ‘tun u hand an mek fashion’.
The Health sector could do with some of those finances right now. It is shameful, irresponsible to continue to spend for a 100% voter turn out, knowing what you know and I have no reason to doubt your figures. In my own circle, 2 out of 10 vote and will continue to do so; that is low.
ECJ chair bemoans low voter turnout at elections
BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, May 29, 2015 28 Comments
Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica Dorothy Pine McLarty addressing the official opening of the 10th International Electoral Affairs Symposium at the Half Moon Hotel in Rose Hall, St James on Wednesday. (PHOTO: PHILLIP LEMONTE)
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) Dorothy Pine McLarty says voting apathy is causing millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to go down the drain because preparation has to be made for a 100 percent voter turnout.
The cost of staging the December 2011 general election, she said, was approximately $1.2 billion.
“Electoral commissions must prepare for 100 percent voter turnout despite the significant monetary loss when only half of the registered electors turn out to vote,” Pine McLarty told Wednesday’s opening of the 10th International Electoral Affairs Symposium at the Half Moon Hotel in Rose Hall here in St James.
Director of Elections Orette Fisher expressed similar views as Pine McLarty.
“Although it is a significant loss, under the system you have to make preparation in the event the turnout is large. But when they don’t turn out… it is a lot of money that could have been saved had we known. But the truth is we just can’t know,” Fisher told the Jamaica Observer.
He noted, for example, that there are useless items of stationery left over in the wake of a low voter turnout.
“We would print ballots to facilitate a 100 per cent turn out and then when you have 50 to 60 per cent turn out all that is discarded because it cannot be used again, specific to the election,” Fisher explained.
“… Also you would anticipate moving all of those ballots and so on, so therefore transportation would be taken into consideration [and] so that is where most of that loss would be.
“If you knew only 50 per cent was going to turn out you could basically almost end up with 50 percent of the stations and also reduce the workers,” Fisher added.
In the meantime, the ECJ chairman said it was the “feeling of pride in the right to vote by Jamaicans in the 1970s and 1980s [that] translated into a relatively high voter turnout during parliamentary elections in the past.
“For example, in the 1976 elections, the voter turnout was 72 per cent; while in 1980 the turnout went up to 80 per cent,” Pine McLarty said.
However, she said that in contrast there was decline in voter turnout in the last three parliamentary elections (2002, 2007 and 2011).
“In 2002, 59 per cent of the 1.4 million eligible voters [cast ballots]; in 2007, 61.4 per cent of the 1.3 million voters [participated]; and in 2011, 52.6 per cent of the 1.3 million eligible voters [turned out],” she said.
“We can’t be happy as a country. The percentage of those who said they won’t vote is too high. This can’t be acceptable,” the ECJ boss lamented. “The task of getting more people to participate in the democratic process cannot be left solely to the political parties,” she added.
“Stakeholders in the society like the church, service clubs, business associations and citizens groups, including neighbourhood watches, have a critical role to play in helping to rebuild pride in the democratic right to vote in this country,” Pine McLarty said.
She recommended social media be utilised as a means to encourage people, especially the young, to exercise their franchise and vote