Coach Lennox Graham calls for online voting in JAAA elections


Coach Lennox Graham calls for online voting in JAAA elections

Observer writer

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

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Long-time Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) member Lennox Graham has described as “disappointing” the decision by the track and field federation not to allow the use of technology at this month's annual general meeting (AGM), especially in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Graham, who has been named on the coaching staff of several teams to the Olympic Games and World Athletics World Championships and who now plies his trade in the United States, thinks the overseas-based members are not given enough say in the running of the JAAA and that needs to change.

He took to the social media platform Facebook last week imploring the JAAA to follow the lead of Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Association that has moved to embrace technology. Lennox wrote: “I would love to begin to feel like a stakeholder and not just a steak holder.”

The former Kingston College coach told the Jamaica Observer last week he was speaking only “as Lennox Graham, member of the JAAA”.

“My position is mine only and is not influenced by anyone else and not meant to represent my current workplace or represent a campaign of any person(s) running for office in the JAAA AGM,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

He said that given his extensive recent history in the information technology (IT) industry, the use of proven technology is the best way forward.

Graham, who said he joined the JAAA during the presidency of the late Adrian Wallace who served one term 1996-2000, said he was “not sure how to react to what President Blake said,” after reading an article in the Observer last week.

In the article, Dr Blake said the JAAA would not be using Internet technology to conduct the voting aspect of the AGM, saying they lacked integrity and “virtual voting is not going to happen at our AGM”.

Blake was responding to a call from a number of candidates in the election citing health and safety concerns and Graham echoed their cry.

“I am feeling disappointed about being denied a chance to vote in the upcoming election,” he said. “In the past, I can remember clearly flying to Jamaica to place my vote at the JAAA AGM. In fact, the last time I did fly to Jamaica for the AGM, I voted for Dr Blake for president and Mr Garth Gayle for gen sec [general secretary],” Graham said.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic coming to Jamaica to vote would mean that people like myself would need to fly to Jamaica and spend time and money to quarantine, then vote, then fly back, quarantine again and test negative for COVID-19 before I could get back to work,” he added.

Graham said his understanding of the Observer article was that Dr Blake “did not suggest there were no trusted or reliable software to have remote voting done”.

“ I interpreted him to be saying that that the system the JAAA had that offered virtual voting was not one that could guarantee the integrity of votes,” he noted.

With his background of having “a first degree in business administration with an emphasis on computer information systems and my postgraduate studies is a masters degree in business administration,” he said.

“My work experience while in Jamaica was 18 years working in information technology as analyst, programmer, quality assurance and at one point as an information technology consultant attached to the Office of the Prime Minister . I am almost certain he [Dr Blake] is aware of systems within our sport where virtual voting is practised. I would assume, for example, that the current voting for male and female athlete of the year is being done remotely,” Graham went on.

Additionally, he said he had “participated in quite a few data conversion exercises where there were manual scenarios [cases] designed and worked through to validate automated systems being implemented. The information technology discipline involves many built-in checks and balances [some manual] before highly trusted automated systems are implemented”.

Graham added: “Consideration should be given to people like myself and other overseas members for whom it is impossible to attend in person. Additionally, in the interest of sound public health practice, I believe the JAAA should avoid the risks associated with the congregating that will be necessary for in-person voting. I am sure there are many older persons with pre-existing conditions who live in Jamaica who would greatly appreciate avoiding any risky gathering.”

The man, who coaches 2015 World Championships gold medallist Danielle Williams at his South Carolina base, bemoaned the fact that overseas-based members have been left out in the cold where being included in decision-making process was concerned, and when asked if they should be given the same benefits as Jamaican-based, members said: “The short answer is 'yes'. I believe that there are important lessons to learn from this global pandemic.”

“One lesson that we should learn is to be others centred. Think about it, the decision whether to wear a mask is a selfish/unselfish decision where one consciously decides to protect/expose others.

“With the pandemic has come virtual meetings. Every progressive group has adopted this approach. My wife is an elementary teacher, and she has had to learn Google Classroom and using Google Meet to facilitate e-learning. Recently we had a rare tropical storm here in South Carolina where I live and school buses were not allowed out due to high winds. Immediately the school system was able to plan to move seamlessly to the e-learning option. This is what all progressive groups must do to remain efficient and even relevant in the new normal. Sitting in the same office/building/country to have critical meetings is an obsolete luxury,” Graham reasoned.

As a stakeholder, Graham said he should be able to vote and be part of the decision-making process.

“Under the current leadership I have observed decisions made where it is published that the stakeholders were consulted and I am unaware whether or not that classification included members who live overseas,” he ended.

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