Successful summer programme exposed youth to the electoral process
The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) has engaged the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme workers in digitizing Registration Record Card (RRC) information for registered electors who make up the country’s voters’ list.
Nine (9) individuals from the HOPE Programme have been working with the Information Systems Department of the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ), to digitize the registration forms of electors who have registered as far back as 2009.The Hope workers have been employed since May 2019 and will end their tenure in September, when a new set of workers will join the organisation.
The work done since the start of this collaboration, forms part of the organization’s thrust and move, which started in March 2011, towards online registration for electors when registering for a voter registration card. The process of inputting voter information online will assist with the organization’s efficiency in retrieving and verifying information of registered voters.
Additionally, the EOJ will be better able to serve the public with regards to revision, replacement and renewals which are among the core services offered by the EOJ.
Mr. Glasspole Brown, Director of Elections in speaking of the benefits stated, “The Electoral Office is very aware of the technological age in which we now exist and we believe that embracing technology will bring a greater level of efficiency to the work of the entity and assist us in achieving our core mandate.”
The digitization process will also benefit the EOJ financially as it will reduce the company’s overheads directly related to the storage of voter registration forms for electors. “We currently expend a significant amount in monthly rental fees for storing registration forms; forms that we have from 1997. So this project will enable cost savings and a more reliable system of storage,” Brown explained.
The EOJ also employed and partnered with entities such as the Airports Authority, National Youth Service and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica in employing a number of young persons as workers for the months of June to August. They were spread right across the island posted in constituency offices as well as the head office located Down Town, Kingston.
The summer programme at the EOJ gave young persons across the island an opportunity to engage in the electoral process even before they are eligible to vote. During their stint, they were exposed to various aspects of the electoral system. The Director of Elections explained that the exposure to the process is with the view that young people will become more participatory in Jamaica’s democratic process.
“Each year, we hope that with this exposure to what we do at the EOJ, young people will recognize their role in strengthening democracy and governance in Jamaica and embrace their right and responsibility in the voting process. The summer programme is part of our thrust to tackle voter apathy and the decline in voter participation which we have been seeing over the years.”
The EOJ is about to undertake a study to examine the reasons for voter apathy and to make recommendations as to how to address this phenomenon.