Tensions mount over polling station location
Port Antonio, Portland:
Tempers flared among People’s National Party (PNP) supporters yesterday after it was revealed that a polling station, which is in proximity to its constituency office at Smatt Road in Port Antonio, Portland, was illegally placed.
The irate PNP supporters, who hurled insults at the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) for the push to have adjustments made ahead of Thursday’s by-election, also voiced their anger at JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang, who visited the site.
“It is really an electoral breach as by law, a polling station should not be within 100 metres of a political office or vice versa,” said Chang.
“The Electoral Office of Jamaica has realised the error, and we have some concerns also. However, we have agreed to some changes and adjustments, which should allow for a smooth operation on election day. Let me state categorically that this should not have happened, but we are willing to work with it this time around,” he added.
Hostility and frustration
PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson said that the situation, which cannot be resolved in two days, was probably what triggered hostility and frustration from a PNP crowd, who was upset after learning that the constituency office or the polling station would have to be relocated.
“The JLP objected to the location because of the proximity of the constituency office,” commented Robinson.
“The PNP constituency office has been there for the last two elections. Clearly, we can’t move the constituency office. Now they wanted to move the polling station. What we have agreed is that the entrance will be moved from here to further down, so that you can observe the 100-metre distance between the entrance of the polling and where people will congregate. But we are totally opposed to moving this station. It has been here for years. People are used to it, “He further said.
Ann-Marie Vaz of the ruling JLP is facing off against Damion Crawford of the PNP for the right to become member of parliament (MP) for Eastern Portland in the by-election, following the murder of sitting MP Dr Lynvale Bloomfield on February 2.