KINGSTON, JAMAICA – The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) is about to commence a special Elector Verification Exercise to update the Voters’ List. The aim of the exercise is to accelerate the identification and removal of electors on the current Voters’ List who have died since 1998.
A major component of the initiative is an island-wide house-to-house verification of electors, which is slated to get underway in November. The project entails trained and identifiable Verifiers visiting the homes of 1.1 million electors 40 years and older to collect the necessary information, over a four-month period. After the exercise, electors who are identified and confirmed as dead will be removed from the Voters’ List.
Glasspole Brown, Director of Elections, explains that the removal of deceased electors has statistical and financial benefits for taxpayers and will eventually lead to reduced spending on election preparation and more accurate statistics on voter turnout.
“Whenever an election is called, we must prepare for a one hundred percent turnout, that is, all the electors on the list. When we remove the electors confirmed as dead, then we will be able to spend less on elections as we prepare for a more accurate number of voters. Therefore we would be printing fewer ballots and utilizing fewer polling stations, for example,” he said.
The ECJ is seeking to enlist the support of political, public sector and private sector stakeholders who possess information on electors who have died since 1998. An appeal will also be made to the public to provide information on their relatives or acquaintances who passed away during the period, as part of the public education campaign for the initiative.
A recruitment drive for Temporary Verifiers and Data Entry Clerks will take place over the next three weeks.
The ECJ carried out a similar exercise in 2012 for electors 70 years and older and was able to remove 54,000 persons using this method. The ECJ expects to remove more than 200,000 names from the Voters’ List with this exercise.
There are 1,917,945 electors on the Voters’ List. The ECJ publishes a Voters’ List twice each year (May 31 and November 30). This bi-annual updating of the list allows for the addition of newly-registered electors and the removal of electors who are reported and confirmed dead.
The staff at the Electoral Office of Jamaica’s constituency offices island-wide work assiduously on a daily basis to obtain information on deceased electors and conduct the necessary field activities to confirm the information received. However, only about 5,000 names are removed per year through the efforts of the staff and political representatives. One of the primary sources of information on deceased persons is the Registrar General’s Department (RGD). However, the ECJ fully recognizes the challenges faced by the RGD as they relate to the non-registration of deaths and the limited and restricted quality of the information provided.