It is said that at midnight on August 5, 1962, the Union Jack (flag of the United Kingdom) was lowered while the “Black, Green and Gold”, the national flag of Jamaica was raised. This was a time of celebration and great pride for the people of Jamaica who had crammed into the national Stadium to witness this historic event. After many years of struggle, Jamaica had finally been granted political independence from the United Kingdom.
As a child who lived outside of Jamaica from infancy because of my father’s job, my parents always spoke with pride about Jamaica. In the 15 years that we lived in the islands, they spent time to inculcate a love of and pride in our identity as children of this great nation, especially in the politically charged years of the 1970s. So it was only natural that as soon as I ‘gained my own independence’ at age 18, I wanted to have a voice in the running of the country of my birth.
Perhaps mine was not to be a voice in the political arena, but I could have a say in who was selected to serve me and my fellow Jamaicans. When our political representatives are elected, we think they are placed to lead us, but Scripture reminds us that they are really the servants of the people: ‘…but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (Mark 10: 43b-44).
Duly enumerated, by 1986 I was ready to vote in the Local Government Election scheduled for July 29 that year. I proudly went home with my purple covered right index finger which had been dipped in the electoral ink – the sign that I had cast my ballot! On reflection, I just went into a booth and marked my “X”, not even fully aware of the procedures.
But having been part of the electoral process in a more fulsome way over the past 18 years, I have come to know not only the importance of educating the electorate about their political rights and responsibilities, but also the details regarding Election Day protocols. Again, we are told in God’s Word that ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…’ (Hosea 4:6a).
In 2002, I was invited by the Returning Officer for the constituency in which I lived, to work in the newly created role of Election Day Worker (EDW) Cluster Supervisor. The EOJ was looking for educated, trainable persons of integrity to fill the many roles needed in the electoral process. I asked my father if I should take up the offer. He gave me his blessing, having worked in the system in his younger days and admonished me with the words, “Serving your country is a noble thing, my dear”. Thus, began my training and service to my nation.
Between 2010 and 2011, the assistance of the EDW Supervisors was again required – this time to be Trainers. This facilitated the process of tutoring more EDWs in a shorter time and enabling the selection of the cream of the crop.
Today, I remind the potential EDWs that many died for our freedom and independence as a nation; the responsibility of protecting the machinery that preserves our political freedom must be handled carefully.
The EOJ and all who serve on its behalf must be committed to elections that are free and fair, ensuring one man, one woman: one vote and; the same man, the same woman, the same vote.
Jascinth Aarons is a lay preacher and student of FCSM. By profession, she is a student of FCSM. She is also a trade marketing manager.