Go out and vote; it is your right

Editorial

Go out and vote; it is your right

Thursday, September 03, 2020

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As Jamaicans go to the polls today in the country's 18th general election since universal adult suffrage in 1944, we urge the just over 1.9 million citizens so entitled to exercise their right to vote.

We also encourage voters to carefully examine the issues articulated by the 139 candidates nominated to contest the election and make their choice based on what they believe is in the best interest of the country.

Thankfully, the campaign period has been short, and the fact that it has been conducted in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic forced the Jamaica Labour Party and the People's National Party to concentrate on issues, rather than platform gimmickry which characterised so many elections of the past.

We are not sure what weight people will place on the manifestos produced by both parties, especially given the flood of promises packed in them. However, we reiterate that the country's focus should be on how we will fund the key social, health, and education priorities and fix our implementation deficit, rather than being lured by a bag of promises that we know a COVID-19-ravaged economy can't afford.

Unfortunately, there have been a few unpleasant incidents associated with the campaign, but those were mild compared to the violence-stricken years of the past, particularly 1980 — the year that mindless people stained the country's name internationally as more than 800 Jamaicans were slaughtered in a virtual civil war spawned by deep ideological differences.

We have come a long way since then, and it is not uncommon now to see supporters of both major political parties engaged in friendly rivalry, having a good time together, and, in some cases, sharing a drink. That speaks to a maturing of our democracy that we need to nurture, as we must never return to the dark days of intolerance of opposing views.

As we have pointed out before, the country has made significant strides since the reconstitution of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica on December 1, 2006 to set the rules and administer the holding of parliamentary and local government elections. The Representation of the People Act has been fortified by the introduction of new laws, which seek to eliminate any hint of wrongdoing before, on, and after any general election.

Additionally, no one can deny that the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) has done an excellent job over the years by establishing an electoral process that is fair, civil, and which we can boast is based on the universal principle of one man, one vote.

By exercising the right to vote, Jamaicans will play their part in assisting the growth of the country's democracy. Again, we urge all Jamaicans who are enumerated to go out today and vote for the candidates of their choice.

In the end, it is our sincerest hope that the victors in today's election will celebrate their triumph in a magnanimous manner, never forgetting that the task ahead is to build a better Jamaica — a Jamaica where all citizens can work, realise their dreams, play, and develop in peace and harmony.

To the losers, we say, accept defeat graciously, refrain from any overreactions which might lead to violence, and then join the process of working for Jamaica, as to do anything else will severely impair and tarnish the country's good name.

Good luck to all candidates.


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