Fri | Apr 12, 2024

Long wait for voters

Published:Tuesday | February 27, 2024 | 3:12 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer
Frustrated voters standing in line at Windsor Primary School in East Portland.
Frustrated voters standing in line at Windsor Primary School in East Portland.

It was a tough day for candidates representing the two major political parties, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP), in East and West Portland, following what, seemingly, was a low voter turnout on Monday.

From the outset, voting proceeded at a snail’s pace at polling stations located at Norwich Primary School, Port Antonio Infant, Port Antonio Basic, Ken Wright Primary, and Windsor Primary in East Portland as a majority of voters had to be verified, and had to swear or affirm due to a lack of proper identification.

A first-time voter, who gave her name as Janice Hill, told The Gleaner that she had to wait in line for more than an hour as some electors were without identification cards, which she said led to a long wait.

“I had to wait in the hot sun at Windsor School, and I was there from as early as 10 a.m. Movement was slow, and some people were cursing and arguing about what was holding up the process inside,” she said.

“But I decided that I wasn’t going to leave, and come what may, I was determined to vote for the first time at age 19 years. The experience was good, and finally, I got to exercise my democratic and political rights. My dad told me that there was a time when black people like us were not allowed to vote and that our past leaders fought for the right for us as ordinary Jamaicans to be able to do so. So having learnt all of that, I will never waste the opportunity,” she added.

Although not disclosing which party she supported, Hill, who also shied away from having her picture taken, noted that if another election is called before the end of the year, she would be out to cast her vote for the party of her choice. She was quick to add that by no means was she a loyalist but that her decision to vote was based on issues and policies.

In the meantime, over in West Portland, most polling stations opened on schedule, allowing for a smooth running of the polls throughout the day, including at St Margaret’s Bay, Hope Bay, Buff Bay, Orange Bay, and Shrewsbury primary schools.