Prostitution of the right to vote in by-election

Friday, March 15, 2019

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Dear Editor,

The Electoral Commission of Jamaica has worked assiduously over the years to ensure free and fair elections. However, recent trends in electioneering practices threaten to undermine those efforts and have introduced a dangerous and corrupt practice of buying votes.

In the constituency of Portland Western there have been continuous allegations and assertions of those practices in the last election, which have gone unheeded by the commission. These allegations have now manifested themselves in Portland Eastern and the upcoming election.

There has been acknowledgement by the Jamaica Labour Party that certain roadwork and other work which started since the presentation of the candidate in Port Antonio four months ago are being funded by private individuals who are assisting the candidate. This cannot be right as it amounts to using money to influence votes.

On social media there are citizens in Portland Eastern complaining about the Jamaica Labour Party activities offering them money to vote for their party in some instances, and in other instances offering them money to stay home and not vote rather than vote for the People's National Party.

These complaints are similar to the allegations from Portland Western citizens, and social media refers to the elections as a “buy election”, which mirrors the allegations that money is being used to secure a victory at the polls.

If this is so, are we to be content with returning to the era when the money class in Jamaica are the representatives of the people, thereby ensuring that their interests are protected and that the masses of Jamaicans are fed the crumbs from the table?

But more importantly, are we as a people totally unconcerned that this type of prostitution of the right to vote, and the right to free and fair elections is entrenching a social monstrosity that cannot be in the interest of our country. This sort of prostitution can only build a nation of panhandlers and beggars, who are encouraged to depend on handouts from the rich for their sustenance.

This kind of vote-buying amounts to corruption of the electoral process and cannot be allowed to take root in our country. If we allow any party to soar on the wing of corruption we will all reap the whirlwind as a country.

Valerie Neita-Robertson, QC

Kingston

valerie.crobertson@gmail.com


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