On July 1st, I wrote an article entitled: “Local Government Elections Postponed – Why Not Combine Local and General Elections?” In this post, I proposed to have both the Local Government as well as Central Government (General) Elections held simultaneously.
Now it seems that the folks at Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) either read the post or got bitten with the same bug that bit me. The EOJ has issued a proposal to the government of Jamaica to consider holding dual elections.
One wonders what took them so long to recognize this possibility. The cost and time savings would be tremendous, yet the proposal is just coming. Why? The answer lies in the system.
Holding elections is a multi-million dollar venture, where the government (finances the holding of elections), private individuals and companies contribute cash and kind to the system. Many people stand to gain from it. If we combine both local and general, we will be killing half of the ‘cash cow.’
Those relatively few who benefit will get hurt if we combine both, but the country itself and the majority of the people will benefit. Half the tax dollars will be spent.
As they say, ‘better late than never,’ so we hope the government puts the country first and considers the proposal from the EOJ.
KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) is proposing that legislative changes be made to facilitate the possibility of holding local government and parliamentary elections on the same day.
Chairman of the ECJ Dorothy Pine-McLarty is making it clear that the recommendation is not to make dual elections an obligation, but an option available to the Government.
She also said the proposal is in no way intended to infringe on the prime minister’s constitutional right to determine the date of elections in keeping with legislation.
“The Electoral Commission has no authority to dictate to the Government when elections are carried out. That remains the express prerogative of the prime minister. However, we strongly recommend that the necessary legislative changes be made to give the Government the choice to hold local and central government elections either separately or together,” she explained.
“We are not suggesting that the Government be bound to one or the other, but that provisions are put in place for a dual election, should it become feasible at any time,” Pine-McLarty added.
The chairman further indicated that the move would be a progressive one for the Jamaican electorate, putting the country on par with several jurisdictions across the world that already carry out this practice.
In the case of the May 2014 dual elections in South Africa, Pine-McLarty observed a smooth process, citing no reason that the same could not be done in Jamaica. Although on a smaller scale, Jamaica already has experience in twinning elections in three constituencies, making up the municipality of Portmore, where electors vote for councillors and a directly elected mayor during local government polls.
“We would like to have the necessary changes in place as well as the plans for a major public education campaign. As a commission, we would be negligent if the plans are not made in light of the postponement of local government elections, now due by December 2016, and the distinct possibility that a joint election could be contemplated.
A feasibility paper outlining the requirements for holding a dual election has been prepared by Director of Elections Orrette Fisher and is being reviewed by the ECJ.
Curated from The Jamaica Observer