So I had this blog all written and my wifi is so sketchy that apparently even though it said it saved it, it did not! (Wow a whole lot of it in that one!) Anyway I am going to try to catch this back up.
Today is election day here in Jamaica. As a volunteer I am on standby, which means I am not to leave my community from yesterday at noon until tomorrow at noon, which can change if there is any violence in my area or potential for a political coup.
Similar to most election processes there are two parties here. The JLP (Jamaican Labor Party) is currently the opposition and seeking to elect the Honorable Andrew Holness. The other party is the PNP (People’s National Party) and they are currently in power. The Most Honorable Portia Simpson Miller is the current Prime Minister. Unlike our own elections election day is called by the Prime Minister at any time during a specified period. This makes the election process a bit more cumbersome and definitely unpredictable. The colors for the JLP is green and I have run into issues on several occasions for wearing a green recycle or green Jamaica 50 years celebration T-shirt. I have had to go back home and change my clothes 4 times now as this is seen as support of the party. PC also issued us these nice rubber bracelets in a lime green color with emergency numbers on the inside. We all indicated this was not a neutral sign as we got into our communities. I have not worn mine since! I also got reprimanded by our current councilman as I was interviewing him I had a green pen. Apparently even a pen color matters during the election year.
Last week the campaigning was very strong. I went to a grave digging for the family that recently died of CO poisoning for running a generator inside their home. When I arrived it was a sea of orange shirts for the most part, a small segment of green shirts was there as well. I was asked why I was not showing my colors and I simply stated I was neutral. This elicited a very aggressive negative response about making enemies easily that way. I then had to explain that I was with the USPC and I was obligated to not discuss nor take sides in political discussions. He then wanted my number to “collaborate” on projects. I am really uncertain how we could collaborate.
All week we have seen the evidence of campaigning, fliers everywhere, bandanas on car antennae, orange and green shirts, cars with town criers telling us to vote for so and so. I see much stuff on my Facebook feed as well since I not only have people in my community but also several Jamaican news sources I follow. I am not without an opinion on the election and the elected officials, but as I am sworn to keep out of the natural progression of the election as an outsider, I am simply going to stay silent on the actually candidates and parties.
As our own political train is chugging forward with sometimes absolutely disgusting gusto, I try to remain grounded in the fact that I am here and this is where I am for the next year, so I must not allow myself to get upset or worried about the elections back in the states. I am happy to not have a TV as I see no political ads for either nation and let me tell you, it is glorious.
On my walk this morning we passed a polling station and on either side of the driveway were tables set up for each party. They were polite and said good morning to us as we walked by, but none tried to garner our votes, mostly I believe because I am not allowed to vote and they all know this. Another interesting thing that happens during the election is absolutely no alcohol is sold. I have yet to determine if that is only until polling has closed or the entirety of the day. Polls close at 7pm tonight and there does not seem to be any absentee voting, so once the polls close that is it.
A unique happening in my area is that person with vehicles were carrying voters to and from the polling station. I saw cars full of people and most schools appear to be closed along with many businesses. Election day is much like a holiday here and people do not take any chances on losing their chance to vote. Please Americans, get out and vote, not everyone has the chance to voice who they want to lead them. Your vote should not be taken for granted, if you want the system to change then vote for the persons you feel will change the system in a way you feel it should. If you do not vote, you have no right to complain about things after the election!