Postponed Diaspora elections get underway tomorrow amid concerns over low registration

New York
, USA — Jamaicans across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom will begin voting in elections tomorrow to choose a new slate of representatives for the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council and the Global Jamaica Diaspora Youth Council, for the next three years.

The elections were previously scheduled for December 2-19, 2022 but had to be postponed due to challenges faced with the website and the need to afford the electoral committees adequate time to effectively undertake their functions.

The postponement was also done to allow nominees and registrants for the positions more time to become engaged in the process. There had been reports of a low response to the registration process, and it was felt that “an extension of the timelines would also provide for greater sensitisation of the election process”, a source told the Jamaica Observer.

The election process will last through January 27, according to an advisory from the Kamina Johnson Smith-led Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, which holds responsibility for Diaspora affairs.

While the number of people who have already registered to vote was unclear, consensus among prominent members of the Diaspora is that “not enough has been done to get people to participate in the process”.

“The process to get people to participate to register and vote has not been particularly smooth from the start, as everything was not in place until after the announcement of the dates for registration, nomination of candidates, and the start of official voting,” said Dr Kevin Brown, the Global Jamaica Diaspora representative for the northern United Kingdom.

“I don’t think there has been a great deal of registration which, by the way, is historically low. The effort to get people to become engage this time around was also more challenging since everything was being done in the holiday period when most people are focused on other things.

“The Jamaican High Commission in London did step up in the last few days in a bid to boost engagement in the process by emailing leaders of various Jamaican organisations about the pending elections and the need to register and vote,” Dr Brown disclosed.

Dr Brown insisted that more attention should have been given to the Global Jamaica Diaspora Youth Council elections, in particular, because it is the first time a vote will take place for those positions.

Roy Davidson, who is seeking to represent the west Midwest US on the council, shared similar concerns with the Observer about the election process.

He said that as an example, “I am yet to receive a response to my application as a candidate, which was submitted several days ago. In regards to the level of registration, I think it was poor as many people are sceptical and reluctant to share their information,” he noted.

Davidson said that he too was unhappy with how the election for a youth council representative was handled. According to him, it was only as a result of his intervention and recommendation that a particular candidate entered the race. Dr Brown, meanwhile, is of the view that additional staff should be put in place to attend to the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council.

The seven representatives from the US, Canada and the UK will form part of the 29-member Global Jamaica Diaspora Council. The remaining 22 will be appointed by the Jamaican Government.

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