Working on Election Day
At some point it will be official -- I will either be a Presiding Officer or a Poll
Clerk in the next elections.
I thought I was vounteering, and playing my part as a citizen, until I understood that I was actually going to be paid about J$5000 -- which is about US$87.
Now, that is not bad money.
Except that I happen to be working in one of the "special" constituencies i.e. possibly dangerous, or disruptive. I can't say that I meant to sign up for all that!
We (the election day workers) will actually be sequestered at some hotel, before being bused in the following morning to an "undisclosed" location. Once the polling is complete, we will be bused back out.
Elections days in the past have meant gunshots, stolen ballot boxes, 100%+ "turnouts" in some constituences and a range of other "irregularities." According to a Trini friend of mine, Elections is to Jamaicans what Carnival is to Trinis, except that elections only come once every 5 years.
A few years ago, I participated as an observer of the process in one volatile area, and that was an eye-opener. Votes materialized out of thin air, as the list of votes exceeded the number of voters by a fair margin.
Like everything else in Jamaica, it had tinges of excitement, danger, chaos and fun mixed in. Tempers, emotions and sweat were all running quite hot back then, it what everyone knew was an easy win for the ruling party.
The upcoming election is bound to be a close one, so whatever job I actually do on the day is going to be important. I am sure that the four evenings of training and testing I underwent will be put to good use.
Elections here are a serious business -- we love them and hate them.
And thank God we have them, and that our governments have willingly given up power, and stepped aside.
This is a national miracle.