Message of the chairman to Election Day Workers Oct 2002

On behalf of the Electoral Advisory Committee, I wish to thank you for offering to serve as an Election Day Worker. It is not possible to over-estimate the importance of the task that you have accepted to perform.

For the democratic process to work it is imperative that elections are free and fair. It is of the utmost importance that only duly registered electors vote and that they vote only once by secret ballot. It is equally important that the ballot marked in secret is kept secret and that at the end of the poll all ballots are accounted for and duly counted.

For this desirable goal to be achieved you must:

  • Report to your polling station at 6.00 a.m.
  • Open the polling station on time at 7.00 a.m.  
  • Treat each elector with respect.
  • Conduct the polling according to the requirements of the Representation of the Peoples Act.
  • Close the poll at the specified time.
  • Count all the voters in the presence of the Indoor Agents of all candidates.  
  • Give each Indoor Agent a signed copy of the Statement of Poll.

As we have spoken to people across the country the greatest single issue raised has been that of security. Let me, therefore, address this issue in relation to you.

First, even in the worst of times, Jamaica has not had a history of attacking or injuring Election Day Workers. There was not a single incident involving Election Day Workers in the 1997 elections.

Second, we have had detailed discussions with the Security Forces with respect to your security. The Security Forces have given us the assurance that they will be present at every polling location and your safety and security will be their top priority.

Third, the Director and I met with the prospective candidates, of all parties or their representatives, in the 60 constituencies. In these meetings, we have set out in no uncertain manner that the security of Election Day Workers is of primary importance. We have told them that if you our trained and appointed Presiding Officers and Poll Clerks do not open the polling stations, conduct the poll in its entirety, close the poll and count the votes no election will take place in that polling station on Election Day. The poll will be conducted when we can guarantee the security of the Election Day Workers.

The most interesting reactions to this very strong stand are the fear that has been expressed by candidates of constituencies most marked by violence. These candidates fear that even after they have made their best efforts to ensure the safety of Election Day Workers in their constituencies, some Election Day Workers may not show up on Election Day. Their big fear is that through no fault of their own, elections make not take place in some parts of their constituencies.

Here we have fear confronting fear. The possibility that fear existing in the minds of some Election Day Workers could cause them not to show up to perform their duties. This possibility is creating fear in candidates in those constituencies that are stigmatised by violence that this could result in no election in some parts of their constituency.

Bearing in mind that we will not assign any Presiding Officer, Poll Clerk or Supervisor to work in any area that you do not want to serve, I implore you to set aside any doubts that you may have, or that others may place in your mind, and show up to discharge your responsibility on Election Day.

WE ARE DEPENDING ON YOU. DO NOT LET YOUR COUNTRY DOWN.

On Behalf of the Electoral Advisory Committee, and all fellow Jamaicans, I CHARGE YOU TO:

  • Be competent in the discharge of your electoral duties.
  • Be impartial and fair in your decisions and judgments.
  • Be respectful to all electors, candidates or their agents. Show respect in your language, tone of voice and in your deportment.
  • Show courage. Insist that all candidates and their agents and all electors follow the Law and proper procedures.

Help to make the Elections of Wednesday October 16, 2002 the best in Jamaica’s history.

Remember Jamaica is bigger than all of us. Jamaica demands and deserves the best from all of us. Do you duty on Election Day for Jamaica Land We Love.