Relaxed atmosphere, moderate voting in St Elizabeth

Garfield Myers

Friday, December 30, 2011


SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — A relaxed atmosphere and a sense of moderate rather than heavy voting prevailed on election day in St Elizabeth.

All across the parish supporters of the two major political parties appeared to mix easily and happily with each other.

One report of a minor scuffle at Middlequarters in South West St Elizabeth remained unconfirmed in late afternoon.

"There were no incidents... No untoward reports; though there was some anxiety among supporters of both parties who wanted to make sure their candidates interests were protected ," said Superintendent Maurice Robinson who is chief of police in St Elizabeth.

At BB Coke High School in Junction, South East St Elizabeth, supporters from opposing sides queued patiently to cast their votes and laughed and chatted easily with each other when the Observer visited at midday.

The SE St Elizabeth candidates Frank Witter of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and Richard Parchment People's National Party (PNP) underlined the light-hearted atmosphere, cheerily greeting each other as they crossed paths at Nain.

In South West St Elizabeth, where incumbent Chris Tufton (JLP) faced off with Hugh Buchanan (PNP), election workers at the Flagaman Primary School reported at 1:00 pm that voting was "not yet quite 50 per cent".

A few minutes later, at Claremont, there was an unexpectedly long line -- showing a mix of green and orange shirts of persons waiting to vote. At Williamsfield, a fairly lengthy line was mostly green.

In the parish capital, Black River, the main town in South West St Elizabeth, voters could be easily counted on the fingers as election workers and security forces relaxed at the Black River Primary School.

"The voting was heavier earlier, but there is a lull in the afternoon," one police officer told the Observer.

There was a similar slow vote in early afternoon in Lacovia at the southern fringe of North West St Elizabeth, where the veteran JC Hutchinson of the JLP is being challenged by the PNP's Richard Rowe. Reports from across NW St Elizabeth suggested unusually slow voting up to mid-afternoon.

In Santa Cruz, the main town in NE St Elizabeth where Raymond Pryce of the PNP sought to hold off the challenge of the JLP's Corris Samuels, soldiers and police prevented journalists -- including at least two television crews -- from entering the compound of the main polling centre at the Santa Cruz Primary and Junior High.

Here, too, voting was moderate in early to mid-afternoon. "All quiet," was how an election observer from the Citizens' Action for Free and Fair Elections described the situation to the Observer whose team did gain access to the compound.

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