Most ‘vir­gin’ vot­ers shun polling sta­tions

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Syranno Baines Gleaner Writer

YOUNG JA­MAICANS are turn­ing their backs on the vot­ing process, some cit­ing a fail­ure of the State to ad­dress is­sues of con­cern to them and oth­ers point­ing to an over­all lack of in­ter­est in pol­i­tics.

Only 12.1 per cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers ages 18-24 years old voted in the Fe­bru­ary 25 gen­eral elec­tion.

The vot­ers’ list utilised for the re­cent gen­eral elec­tion was pub­lished on Novem­ber 30, 2015 and had a to­tal of 249,404 reg­is­tered vot­ers for the 18-24 years age bracket. This, there­fore, in­di­cates that only a mi­nus­cule to­tal of ap­prox­i­mately 30,000 cast their bal­lots.

The cur­rent vot­ers’ list pub­lished on May 31, 2016 by the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of Ja­maica (ECJ) shows that 249,210 per­sons aged 18-24 are reg­is­tered to vote in the up­com­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment polls, a 0.08 per cent de­crease. Speak­ing with The

this week, sev­eral prospec­tive vir­gin vot­ers gave their take on why the vast ma­jor­ity of young adults tend to shun the polling sta­tions even when el­i­gi­bil­ity is not a fac­tor.

Shantelle Fit­ten, a 23-yearold mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions stu­dent at the North­ern Caribbean Univer­sity, said: “I’m yet to see the Gov­ern­ment im­ple­ment any­thing for young peo­ple. Stu­dent loans killing us, and un­til changes are made, I won’t think of vot­ing.”

Twenty-four-year-old Cory Sa­muels ex­pressed a dif­fer­ent view.

He said: “I voted be­cause of fam­ily pres­sures, my peo­ple them force me to vote be­cause I was young.”

Chenelle Bu­dram, 22-yearold hos­pi­tal­ity stu­dent of the Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, said: “I would like to vote, but the process to ac­quire the ID is very lengthy.”

OP­TI­MISTIC

An up­per sixth-form stu­dent from the Cor­po­rate Area, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, said: “I got the ID the other day, but not plan­ning on us­ing it in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture, not in­ter­ested in pol­i­tics.”

There was also a strong view among the young peo­ple with whom The Gleaner spoke that their vot­ers iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card is merely used as a more prac­ti­cal form of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion while on the move, when com­pared with pass­ports and for those yet to ac­quire a driver’s li­cence.

There were also a few neu­trals who ex­pressed faith in the younger crop of politi­cians sur­fac­ing in re­cent times.

Eigh­teen-year-old high­school grad­u­ate Del­lano White was op­ti­mistic about the new faces on the po­lit­i­cal scene, stat­ing that “once sea­soned, the coun­try’s eco­nomic for­tunes will be­gin to shift for the bet­ter”.

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