In 2014, I wrote to the Electoral Commission asking for a discussion on reform in four areas. These were:
- Automatic Voter Registration: would have a non-partisan basis and an inalienable right for every Jamaican who might be subjects of intimidation by party activists/goons and “voting in absentia”. This would greatly confuse the so-called pollsters as anyone can decide/exercise their right on the day rather than being disenfranchised.
- NOTA (None of the above) give an option when faced with unacceptable/corrupt candidates. It sends a direct message to Parties that perhaps they need to clean up their acts, and a possibility that by voting in this way could out number partisan votes.
- Fit and Proper certification for all candidates could be supportive of the efforts of the Integrity Commission to clean out the habitually recalcitrant. We need trustworthy representatives who can lead a rebirth of integrity and hope for the future.
- Publishing Political Parties Audited Accounts would perhaps sober the big contributors both legal and illegal. OLINT would have had to pay all investors, and the poor would have got some relief; the individual politicians would have been exposed and after returning the money would only share pari passu with the ordinary men and women who lost everything.
To my complete surprise the Commission acknowledged my letter and invited me to a meeting, and I humbly accepted. It was a cordial meeting and my opinions were discussed, and I was even offered some refreshment. Their reluctance at that time stemmed from a need for Constitutional Reforms that neither Party was anxious to entertain, even as they saw it as a necessary move forward.
Incidentally from the early 1960’s both Edward Seaga and Dudley Thompson both opined that the Constitution gave too much power to Parliament and eventually that would lead to the abuse of power. In the coming weeks they may be proven right fifty eight years later.
The desire to hold National and Local Elections on the same day justified by reducing the expenses associated with undertaking that exercise seems to belie the fact that we have been unable to finance most things without borrowing over many decades. So we may be willing to reform out of expedience rather than good sense.
So will we allow them (politicians) to dictate some changes without addressing or promising to address other important Constitutional changes by a certain date? These could include fixed election dates; death penalty; issues of human rights; States of Emergency; ZOSA; detention; and many others too numerous to mention that may require a Referendum (paid for by the savings from the other elections currently proposed).
Let us see what the people really want and enshrine it until the next Reform time that must come as society, communication, and the yet unseen future evolves.