Don’t try it!

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Ed­mond Camp­bell Se­nior Staff Re­porter ed­mond.camp­bell@glean­erjm.com

Elec­toral of­fi­cials warn against vote buy­ing

AL­LE­GA­TIONS THAT some can­di­dates and their cam­paign teams are plan­ning to em­bark on a vote-buy­ing scheme in the up­com­ing lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions, have prompted head of the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of Ja­maica (ECJ) Dorothy Pine McClarty to warn elec­tors that any such prac­tice could land them in jail as it is a crim­i­nal of­fence.

She told The Gleaner yes­ter­day that if some­one sus­pects that vote-buy­ing is be­ing done, the po­lice should be called in and pro­vided with a state­ment on the mat­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to Pine McClarty, there are pro­vi­sions in the Rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Peo­ple Act that pre­scribe stiff penal­ties for vote-buy­ing.

How­ever, the ECJ head ex­plained that the com­mis­sion would not get in­volved at this stage. How­ever, if an elec­tor turns up to vote with ink on his fin­ger, the staff of the Elec­toral Of­fice of Ja­maica would call the po­lice to in­ves­ti­gate the mat­ter.

She cau­tioned elec­tors not to get in­volved in this il­le­gal prac­tice.

Po­lit­i­cal Om­buds­man Donna Parch­ment Brown yes­ter­day warned Ja­maicans that vote­buy­ing con­sti­tutes a se­ri­ous breach of the Agree­ment and Dec­la­ra­tion on the Po­lit­i­cal Code of Con­duct and the coun­try’s elec­toral rules.

Parch­ment Brown di­vulged that she had re­ceived re­ports that can­di­dates and their cam­paign teams tak­ing steps to hi­jack the po­lit­i­cal process.

“It has been brought to my at­ten­tion – and this is a mat­ter of great con­cern – that there is some in­tel­li­gence of the prospect of vote-buy­ing in dif­fer­ent places in Ja­maica. What it is an­tic­i­pated is that peo­ple may pay some­body money to have them put their fin­ger in ink ... and what will hap­pen is that on elec­tion day, they can’t vote be­cause their fin­ger al­ready has some­thing on it,” she said.

Con­tin­u­ing, Parch­ment Brown said: “If you hear any of your sup­port­ers, col­leagues, [or] any­one at­tempt­ing to dis­tort our democ­racy, to take choice away from peo­ple, please say or do some­thing about it.”

She said the move is al­legedly a des­per­ate at­tempt to se­cure vic­tory in the Novem­ber 28 lo­cal govern­ment polls.

Parch­ment Brown de­clared that un­der no cir­cum­stance is vote-buy­ing con­doned.

The po­lit­i­cal om­buds­man said she has been re­li­ably in­formed that can­di­dates could re­sort to ma­nip­u­lat­ing the vot­ing process in mar­ginal di­vi­sions.

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