News

Census creates headache for EOJ

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, October 23, 2012    

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THE Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) is concerned about the disparities between the voter's lists for the 63 constituencies and the adult population figures produced by the Statistical Institute (STATIN) in its 2011 census report.

Director of Elections Orrette Fisher said yesterday that the EOJ/Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) will be meeting with STATIN to discuss the issue.

"We are in the process of examining the figures ourselves to ensure that the boundaries they used are the same as ours," he told the Jamaica Observer. However, he insisted that was all he would say at this time.

STATIN's Censuses, Demographic and Social Statistics Division director, Valerie Nam, says that while she was not in a position to state categorically what has caused the disparities, migration could well be the main factor.

"People move around, and there are a number of people who don't vote where they live. I have no explanation, I am just looking at the possibilities," she said, noting that she is hoping that the discussions with the EOJ/ECJ will provide an answer.

However, she insisted that STATIN did not expect the census to produce the same results as the EOJ's enumeration exercise, as they were done at different times. Other observers have stated that the confusion could have occurred because last year was also an election year.

One of the interesting revelations in the census report was that all three constituencies in St Mary had more voters than adults identified as living in those constituencies. Western St Mary had 32,808 votes while the census stated that the adult population there was 30,688; South East St Mary had 23,096 registered voters, with only 21,715 adults identified as living in the constituency; and Central St Mary had 24,226 voters but only 22,777 resident adults.

Other glaring examples included St Catherine North Eastern, which had 22,148 voters in an adult population of 18,634, and St Catherine North Western, which had 30,239 registered voters and an adult population of 27,768.

In St Elizabeth, only the South Western constituency had fewer voters than the adult population depicted in the Census, and in Hanover, St Thomas and Trelawny all the constituencies had more voters than the number of persons listed as resident adults in the census report. West and Central Kingston in the Corporate Area fell in the same category, but none of the constituencies in St Andrew showed voters more than residents.

Other interesting factors revealed in the figures included low numbers of adults registered to vote in some constituencies. For example, in Southern St Catherine, the census showed a population of 54,649 adults, but only 31,429 persons were registered to vote. The total population of the constituency was stated as 79,000. South Eastern St Catherine, which was listed as having a voting age population of just over 45,000 had only 32,500 registered voters.

North Central St Andrew has an adult population of 33,000 adults, but only 21,000 persons registered to vote, while Eastern St Andrew has an adult population of 35,000, but only 23,340 registered voters.

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