How Does The Electoral Process Work?

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Ballot boxes being transported from St Thomas Western to the Electoral Commission of Jamaica office on Duke Street in Kingston for recounting

What is the difference between the preliminary and final results?

The preliminary results are those that are tallied at the end of election day, as described above. As we can see from current events, the numbers may change during the process of the final count. Here is how that process works, according to Section 45:

  1. The returning officer, after receiving the ballot boxes, must secure them to prevent any person other than himself and his election clerk from having access, and seal them so that they cannot be opened without the seal being broken, but without effacing or covering any other seals thereto.
  2. The candidates would have already appointed agents (at least seven days before the election) to act as observers in relation to the safekeeping and security of the ballot boxes, ballot papers and other
    documents during the period beginning with the receipt by the returning officer of the ballot boxes after the preliminary count and ending four days after the completion of the final count, or, where application has been
    made for a magisterial recount, after the completion of that recount.
  3. After all the ballot boxes have been received, the returning officer, at the place, date and time specified in the election notice for the final count of the votes, and in the presence of the election clerk, the candidates or their representatives, shall open the ballot boxes and:
    • count the votes contained therein for each candidate (allowing the candidates and their
      representatives to see such votes) and determine whether any of the votes so cast should be
    • count the votes rejected by the presiding officer (allowing the candidates and their representatives
      to see such votes) and determine whether any of such votes should be regarded as having been
      validly cast for any, and if so for which candidate;
    • add up the total number of votes (including any votes rejected by the presiding officer but which
      he thinks should not have been so rejected) cast for each candidate;
    • make and sign any necessary amendments to the statement of the poll.

Can the place and time for the final count be changed?

The Chief Electoral Officer, whenever he is satisfied that it is expedient to change the place designated for the final count, may direct the returning officer to:

  1. carry out the final count of votes at such place as he/she may specify and to notify each candidate, within 24 hours, of the issue of such a direction; and
  2. postpone for a period not exceeding 48 hours in any one instance, the carrying out of the final count of votes, and to forthwith communicate notice of any such postponement to each candidate.