LETTER OF THE DAY - No vote, no pay - EntornoInteligente

Entornointeligente.com / Jamaica Gleaner / THE EDITOR, Sir: Everald Warmington, the member of parliament for South Western St Catherine, has been making a very strong case against voter apathy and for greater responsibility and accountability on the part of the Jamaican voters through their active participation in the electoral process. His assertions, having been made in his characteristic swashbuckling and controversial style, have resulted in the focus being shifted from the real point that he was seeking to convey to the more controversial elements of his statements. What Mr Warmington has been saying is very critical to the survival of Jamaica’s electoral system and, therefore, requires serious consideration. Nothing is wrong with the core of his argument. In fact, I support him. The right to vote is enshrined in the Jamaican Constitution and the Representation of the People Act further safeguards this right by requiring all employers to allow employees, who are not working on an afternoon shift a half a day off with pay to enable them to cast their vote on election day. Any employer who refuses to observe this provision can be fined or imprisoned. Meantime, the act does not require the employees, once given the half a day off with pay, to cast a vote. Nor does it stipulate any sanctions for them failing to do so. In the 2011 general election, only 52 per cent of registered electors voted, and since many electors took the time off for voting, it, therefore, means that a segment of 48 per cent of who took the time off committed fraud by collecting a half day’s pay for the time taken. If it is mandatory for registered electors to be given time off to vote, it should also be mandatory for them to cast a ballot, failing which, the law should be adjusted to allow employers the right not to pay for the time given. The employees should be required to provide proof of having voted to be eligible for the half-day pay. The right to vote, with the advent of universal adult suffrage in 1944, did not come easy. It was the culmination of several decades of hard-fought battles. Voting should be viewed as a very serious responsibility of all citizens and, ought, therefore not be frowned upon or taken lightly. WEBSTER W. MCPHERSON [email protected] Kingston 8

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