A seventeen-year-old learns why others vote

Written by Jermaine Evans

At 17 years of age trainee reporter Jermaine Evans is one short of voting, but is nonetheless covering the election campaign for JamaicaElections.com.

We sent him out to learn what it means to mark an ‘X’ beside your chosen candidate; and perhaps his experience might remind those who are eligible, but otherwise disinterested, about exercising their democratic right to vote.


Voters in Jamaica have elected a government 11 times since Independence in 1962. What surprises me, is that despite many of them complaining their party does nothing, they continue to vote that way. Meanwhile other complainers do not vote at all since the politicians do not do what they want; which, unfortunately for those voters, means our politicians are even less likely to do what they want.

For a young person such as myself there remain many questions about voting, and leaving the office I was unsure what more seasoned citizens might teach me. Perhaps if the election were to happen next year, I might be better informed; or better still, I could share some of this information with my peers.

Not everyone could answer my questions about why they vote. For a start, of the 20 people that I spoke to most were not registered to vote and therefore ineligible to answer my questions.

Politically aligned but yet to vote
Welder Courtney Wallace was the first person I spoke to. Aged 25, he was old enough to vote for the first time in the last election – he didn’t. However he might this time around.

Q: Are you aligned to a party?
A: Yea, me aligned to a special party. The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Q: Have you ever voted before?
A: No
Q: Have you ever imagined how it would feel to vote for the first time?
A: Jamaica need a change, me feel like fi vote fi my party so Jamaica can get a change because the other party nah do nutten’ right now. Bruce look like him can lead so I might vote for the JLP this year.
may this time around.

Forced to vote
The experience of John, an unemployed young man from Rae Town would be familiar to many Jamaicans whose voting habits are determined by the political alignment of their community.

Q: Have you ever voted before?
A: Yea inna 2002 general election.
Q: Why did you vote at that time?
A: Mi never did want vote. Mi see some man come fi mi and say mi fi vote. Coz dem say my father used to beat people fi go vote. When mi see them come fi mi, mi all did a cry to.
Q: Are you thinking of voting again?
A: Mi no know, probably mi wi vote again.

An independent voter

Finishing up talking to John I introduced myself to Merrick, a curious passerby, who had a lot to say. A ‘40-odd’ year-old security guard, he began his voting life as a Labourite.

Q: When was the first time you voted?
A: 1977 parish council election
Q: Which party are you currently aligned to?
A: I don’t aligned to any party, coz me is a ‘staunched born’ Laborite, and ‘die-hearted’ socialist, with a ‘National Democratic Movement’ mind. So I can vote any way I choose.
Q: How many times have you ever voted?
A: Me? 1980 mi vote ‘bout 300 time. Coz mi mash up all station and tek weh ballad box.
Q: Are you going to be voting again this year?
A: No mi nah vote.
Q: Why not?
A: I don’t like di candidate them weh ‘roun ya (Central Kingston)

The party loyalist
Ancillary worker, ‘Mom’, who is 58, will vote for anyone, just as long as they are PNP.

Q: How old where you the first time you voted?
A: The first time I voted I was 21.
Q: How did you feel voting for the first time?
A: Mi never feel no way, mi just go and mi vote.
Q: What influenced you to vote at that time?
A: My constitutional right.
Q: How many times have you voted before?
A: Mi vote ’72, ’76, ’80, ’97 and 2002.
Q: Why will you be voting again this year?
A: Because mi feel like mi should still vote. I see di party doing well, at least to me

The youth vote
Christina, a 19-year-old beauty, relaxing under a tree with her four friends, will be voting for the first time.

Q: Have you ever voted before?
A: No but definitely this year.
Q: Why will you be voting this year?
A: Because I love Portia and I want her to win.
Q: Why?
A: Because of the things that she has done for the poor people, she is the poor people defender.
Q: How do you think you will feel on the day that you vote?
A: I’ll feel good because I’m finally doing what I want to do, and everybody in Jamaica have the right to vote.

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