Does New Voter Registration Matter?

As of May 31, 2016, a new voters’ list has been established by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica. You can see the full voters’ list here. This is the first update to the voters’ list since the February 25, 2016 general election. Comparing the new voters’ list to the one on which the 2016 election was decided brings up some interesting points:

table3

The table above shows:

  • each constituency and its current member of parliament
  • each constituency’s percentage turnout in the February 25, 2016 election
  • The number of persons added to the voters list between November 30, 2015 and May 31, 2016 for each constituency
  • the difference between the 2016 vote margin and the number of persons added to the list in each constituency
  • the 2016 and 2011 general election vote margins  (colours represent the party that won the seat in that election) in each constituency.

It is ordered on the difference between the 2016 vote margin and number of persons added to the voters’ list column, from smallest to largest.

Takeaway points from the new voters’ list:

  • 26,259 new names were added to the list and 1,657 names were removed for a net increase of 24,602 persons over the previous voters list.
  • In 6 seats, the vote margin in the February 25, 2016 general election is less than the number of persons added to the voters’ list . See table below for these seats.

table 4

  • In another 6 seats, the 2016 vote margin is only marginally larger than the number of persons added to the list, with a range from 3 to 93. See table below for these seats.

table 5

  •  As seen in the full table, voter turnout in the last election ranged from 36% to 61%. Therefore, new voters added to the list will not likely translate to a directly proportional increase in future voter turnout. Nevertheless, the February 2016 election was won by a slim overall margin of only 3,117 votes. If elections continue to be as hotly contested as the last, it is conceivable that even a fraction of the additional 24,602 persons on the voters’ list could be material to future outcomes.

Note that voter registration is an ongoing process, with a new voters’ list published every six months (May 31 and November 30). There is a cut off date for registration which is two months before the publication of the voters’ list.

Stay up-to-date with diGJamaica as we continue to report on all election related topics. See past election posts here, A Deeper Look At Election Data and the ECJ’s press release on the new voters’ list here.