The advent of the Jamaica’s General election for Dec 29 2011 has spawned a lot of political debates, issues and controversies for the holidays. One of which is the right for the Jamaican Diaspora to vote in the General Elections. The Jamaica Diaspora is the population of Jamaicans that resides abroad and there has been a cry amid sections in recent years to have voting rights in their homeland. The argument being that they should still retain their right to vote as they are still Jamaicans and thus have a right as to have their voice represented in the democratic process as to which political party is elected to office. The Jamaican Diaspora is a large community and is approximately close to a million but there isn’t one cohesive organization that embodies the population due to strategic and geographical issues. There exists a few for example, in the UK, Facilitators for a better Jamaica (FFBJ) and Regional Offices in various sections of the United States.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

This view although somewhat patriotic is neither logical nor practical.  Firstly, to facilitate the voting process from overseas would require a secure method that ensures a free and fair progression that would bridge the geographical gap. This would require specific technology that will be expensive to the country. Secondly, being outside Jamaican borders affect the grasp on reality of the current events, issues and needs of the country. How can one participate in the electoral process if they are unaware of what is happening locally and be aware as to how will the mandate of the political party supported affect and address the issues that are paramount for the benefit of the nation?

Another reason is the concern as to how will the issues of representation be addressed within local government. How will matters and follow up be relayed to the councilors and Members of Parliament (MP)? Is it fair and just that the Jamaican Diaspora which is not subjected to the taxes, legislation and governance of the country be allowed to affect the electoral process and outcome?  No, I do not think it is practical to accommodate such a request.  The Jamaican Diaspora cannot be allowed to take part in the electoral process anymore than an American citizen be allowed to carry on as an MP. The Jamaican Diaspora may aid Jamaica, their homeland in other methods beneficial to the country. One such example is to foster foreign investments, funding of charities, scholarships or mentorship programs just to name a few.