The Jamaica Observer of Wednesday, April 4, 2012, carried an item captioned “Arscott Says AG looking at Portmore Boundaries Issue” written by Balfour Henry. The item asserts that “Councillors were barred from being sworn in as Portmore Councillors on Monday because the Electoral Commission of Jamaica failed to regularize the situation, following the configuration of constituencies to accommodate the increase in the number of constituencies island-wide from 60 to 63.”
This is totally erroneous. The facts are as follows:
The Electoral Commission following approval by Parliament in March 2010, and as required by law, gazetted in 2010 the boundaries of the 63 constituencies island-wide. This was inclusive of the two new constituencies in St Catherine.
The Electoral Commission in 2010 also gazetted the boundaries of the 228 Electoral Divisions island-wide boundaries, inclusive of one additional electoral division in St. Catherine.
Had the Commission not properly concluded both of these requirements neither the General Elections nor the Local Government Elections could have been contested on boundaries for three new constituencies and one electoral division.
The responsibility for redefining the boundaries of the Municipality of Portmore rests with the Ministry of Local Government and the St Catherine Parish Council. During 2011 the Commission provided to the Department of Local Government with all the information needed to carry out its responsibility. It did so again in January 2012 with the Ministry of Local Government.
The Minister of Local Government, as reported in the article, was very accurate when he said that the delay in concluding the matter was a technicality. This ‘technicality’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the Electoral Commission.
Further, there is absolutely no constitutional issue arising from the re-definition of the electoral boundaries defining the Municipality of Portmore. More than a year ago the Attorney General issued an opinion to the effect that the Electoral Commission in redefining the constituency boundaries of St Catherine acted totally consistent with the prescriptions of the Constitution. The definition of the boundaries of the Municipality of Portmore is by Order of the St Catherine Parish Council. That Order cannot take precedence over the Constitution.
Chairman, Electoral Commission