KINGSTON –– The police are now probing the circumstances surrounding the posting of a photograph of a marked ballot on social media, which displayed the names of the candidates for North Trelawny — the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Victor Wright and the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Dennis Meadows.
The ballot showed a mark beside the “head” symbol for the PNP’s candidate, who came into the race following the controversial bowing out of businessman and the man for whom he worked as deputy campaign manager J.P. White.
Head of the crimminal investigation branch, Assistant Commissioner of Police Elon Powell — who is leading the investigation — confirmed yesterday that the probe is under way and should uncover answers shortly. He, however, declined to disclose whether the individual is a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), as has been rumoured, or an Election Day worker, telling the Jamaica Observer repeatedly that, “we have started the investigation”.
Members of the JCF, the Jamaica Defence Force and Election Day workers went to the polls on February 22, three days ahead of the rest of the population who voted in today’s general election.
Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of strategic operations Clifford Blake confirmed a formal complaint to the police from Director of Elections Orrette Fisher.
“I’ve seen the posting on Facebook . . . we don’t know who the person is, that’s what the investigators are trying to find out,” Blake told the Observer.
Yesterday, Fisher said, having been made aware of the picture, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica sent a reminder to all returning officers, presiding officers, and poll clerks to be vigilant in ensuring that recording devices are not used in polling stations and that electors are closely monitored inside the stations.
“The commission would like to remind electors, workers and observers that anyone who uses a cellular phone, digital camera or other device to record, photograph or otherwise capture the image of a marked ballot paper commits a criminal offence and shall be liable, upon summary conviction before a resident magistrate, to a fine not exceeding $80,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both such fine and imprisonment,” Fisher outlined in a statement.