Few voting hiccups
KINGSTON – There were minor incidents throughout the 11 hours of voting for a new government in Jamaica yesterday.
In one instance, according to media reports, voters were temporarily prevented from casting their ballots at a polling station in the Central St James constituency, where the incumbent, Clive Mullings of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), was being challenged by Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams of the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP).
A broken lock on one of the ballot boxes was responsible for the delay.
Hospital officials confirmed that 70-year-old farmer Sylvester Nugent died soon after casting his ballot in the eastern parish of Portland. Reports said that Nugent complained he had voted for the wrong person.
In another instance, two men were arrested as they attempted to vote at the polling station located at the Porus Police Station.
More than 1.6 million people were eligible to vote in the election that is being monitored by observer teams from the Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping.
Electoral officials said that 150 candidates, representing five political parties and including six independents, were seeking the 63 parliamentary seats.
Opinion polls predicted a close result between the JLP and the PNP.
The polls closed at 5 p.m. (6 p.m. Barbados time) and director of elections Orrette Fisher said the likely winner of the elections could be known by as early as 9:30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. Barbados time).
Fisher told reporters that for the most part the process was a smooth one and there should be no hiccups when the official counting of ballots begins.
“After that we should therefore know which candidates and party are trending and by 9:30 p.m. it is likely that one could make the projection as to who will win.”
As?the counting of the ballots began, both the JLP and the PNP were expressing confidence that they had done enough to win the country’s 16th general election since Universal Adult Suffrage in 1944.
“There is nothing to stop us tonight. I am a strong woman but I look to the Almighty for greater strength,” said PNP leader Portia Simpson Miller, 66, who was hoping to regain the position of prime minister that she lost in the 2007 general election.
But Andrew Holness, 39, the youngest person ever to lead a Jamaica government, was equally confident, telling reporters that his JLP needed a second consecutive term in office to continue the work it started in 2007. (CMC)