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Dec 29, 2011

OAS/Senator Shoman observing Jamaica Elections

Thousands of Jamaicans converged on the polls today to choose between the incumbent government of the Jamaican Labour Party and the People’s National Party under the leadership of Portia Simpson Miller.  The electoral process which began this morning was not without its share of hiccups as at least a hundred and sixty-three of the six thousand, six hundred and twenty-nine polling stations were open for voting at seven o’clock.  Among the throng of voters was Prime Minister Andrew Holness who cast his ballot at the Mona High School in the Parish of St. Andrew.  Overseeing the elections was a team of observers appointed by the Organization of American States.  The neutral delegation is being led by Senator Lisa Shoman, who appeared in the Jamaican media on Wednesday morning where she described the similarities in the democratic process between both countries.

Lisa Shoman, OAS Observer, Belize

“I was requested by the OAS. The OAS is requested by the government and the elected office likes to have observers when there is an election. Observers lend that additional credibility or stamp of approval like the good housekeeping. It’s also to be able to act as an extra impartial set of eyes and ears.”

Host

“But more that credibility I guess globally it ratifies that election doesn’t it?”

Lisa Shoman

“I wouldn’t say ratified again I mean it’s more like a seal of approval and it’s a really good comprehensive report that comes out of it at the end. We go away, debrief our people, put together a report and in this instance it will be presented not only to the government, but to the permanent council of the OAS.”

Host

“Is it made public to the media as well, the entire report?”

Lisa Shoman

Lisa Shoman

“Yes.”

Host

“You are from Belize; would the process be the same?”

Lisa Shoman

“The process would be the same, not so many of the very elegant fancy bells and whistles in terms of your electoral commission which is I believe possibly one of the best in the world—not only the organization but the equipment; the technical stuff. But I believe the process in Belize is almost exactly the same.”

Host

“I was taking this morning about when the colors come in—does that happen in Belize?”

Lisa Shoman

“Of course, the red and blue. So we would be—and you would be Jamaican and we would be Belize.”

Host

“So your role now specifically is that you go to all the polling stations?”

Lisa Shoman

“We don’t go to all of them. We have a team of about twenty-eight members. We have thirteen teams that fan out over the country. We are going to every single geographic division that the electoral commission has broken the country into which is eight regions. And we are putting teams in all eight regions. We’ll have people in Montego Bay and Manchester and you will be able to see them because they will be wearing these nice vests identifying them, plus proper identification. The will travel in teams of twos; arrive very early in the morning while workers are arriving. They will be there to watch the set up, to observe the opening of the poll. They will remain for a while. Move around through the constituency, do a representative sampling again at one o’clock to see how things are going. They have questionnaires they must fill out: how the lines are going, how people are reacting, is there any difficulty, or are things going very well. And then before five they must be there to witness the closing of the poll.”

Three hours ago it was reported that the lowest voter turnout was in Saint Catherine           West Central where the JLP’s Kenneth Baugh is challenging Clinton Clarke of the PNP.  In that parish three thousand, six hundred and seventy-one of a total of twenty-four thousand, three hundred and twenty-three voters cast their votes.

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