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EOJ requests $1b for local gov’t polls

Published:Thursday | December 30, 2021 | 12:09 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter
Director of Elections Glasspole Brown.
Director of Elections Glasspole Brown.

With nearly two months before local government elections are constitutionally due, Director of Elections Glasspole Brown says the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) has sent a budget of more than $1 billion to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for approval.

Brown told The Gleaner that the EOJ has had preliminary talks with the finance ministry, but is now awaiting the green light on the budget submitted.

The EOJ has already started the process of recruiting workers and preparing trainers to carry out the training exercise for the polls.

It has also begun to procure the necessary supplies for the local government elections, the date of which has not yet been announced.

The $1-billion price tag is less than the $2.4 billion approved for the September 3, 2020 general election.

The director of elections pointed out that some of the items bought for the general election would be used for the local polls.

In terms of the continued threat of the pandemic with the omicron variant becoming more pervasive worldwide, Brown said that if a date for local government elections is announced, the EOJ would activate a similar protocol to that used in the 2020 general election with improvements.

Brown said that while there were concerns in relation to social distancing in the 2020 polls, “in the main, it held up in terms of what was expected”.

Despite the February 27 deadline for the local government polls, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told party supporters at the Jamaica Labour Party’s annual conference in November that he had no immediate plans to call an election.

Holness said that with a new COVID variant and all the pressures of the virus, the time was not appropriate for politics and elections.

Local government elections were due by November 29, 2020 but had been deferred by up to one year and three months.

Lawmakers amended the Representation of the People Act (ROPA) to reflect the deferral, effectively pushing back the polls to February 27, 2022.

The local government polls, which are slated to be held over a four-year cycle, were last conducted on November 28, 2016. ROPA provides for a 90-day extension.