No virtual voting at JAAA AGM, says Dr Blake

Athletics

No virtual voting at JAAA AGM, says Dr Blake

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer
reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

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THERE will be no virtual voting at the annual general meeting (AGM) of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), insists outgoing President Dr Warren Blake.

Dr Blake, who told the Jamaica Observer he has a postgraduate degree in computer studies where he concentrated on information security, said the system that offers virtual voting “has no integrity,” adding that “virtual voting is not going to happen at our AGM”.

The AGM, which Dr Blake said would be supervised by the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) as was the case the last two times, is set to be held over two days later this month, a virtual session on November 26 and the voting two days later to be done “in person”, the JAAA had indicated earlier this year.

Dr Blake said they had every confidence in the EOJ's handling of the election. “They did it the last two times and it was satisfactory; we had no complaints at all.”

A number of international sporting organisations, led by the International Olympic Association (IOC) and including the World Olympians Association, International Boxing Association (AIBA) and the World Rowing Extraordinary Congress, have embraced the use of virtual voting platforms at their AGMs.

LUMI Global, a system that claims to be “the leading player in software and real time audience engagement technology worldwide” which has been used for over 25 years, was the one that was chosen by the associations.

“AIBA Interim President Mohamed Moustahsane had proposed that the vital congress to choose a new leader should be held in a virtual format,” according to Inside The Games website, a well-respected platform that tracks global sports. “Today we decided to conduct our next congress virtually,” Moustahsane said, before adding, “We also chose to use LUMI as a technical system for voting. This system was already utilised by several international federations including [the] IOC and ASOIF [Association of Summer Olympic International Federations].”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, two of the three men who have so far indicated they were putting themselves up for offices at the AGM as independent candidates — Donald Quarrie and Anthony Davis — have asked that existing software used by an international sporting organisation in a recent AGM be utilised.

Davis, who will be seeking to replace presidential candidate Garth Gayle as the honorary secretary, cited the health and safety of the delegates some of whom, he said, would have to drive in from all parts of the island to carry out an exercise that would maybe last for only five minutes.

“The entire world has been changed as governments strive to introduce measures to keep the population safe,” Davis told the Observer. “There are restrictions on travel, restrictions on the number of persons allowed to gather in public places, as well as many companies have asked staff to work from home. I am of the view that the current executive of the JAAA should take the initiative and apply to the courts to get permission to facilitate electronic voting. Making such a request would certainly send a strong message of an executive willing to embrace change in the interest of its members.”

Quarrie, the 1976 Olympic Games gold medallist who resides in California and will be challenging Gayle for the top job said, “Because of the pandemic, I am concerned about the risk that it poses to our members. The absolute solution should be virtual voting.”

The third independent candidate, Wayne Long, who will be vying for the post of director of records, said, “Electronic voting administered by an independent agent would have a lot more advantages than disadvantages.”

Dr Blake said they would be “putting in protocols to minimise crowding” but did not go into details, and questioned the integrity of the software. “How can we ensure that it is the person who is supposed to vote who is actually voting,” he asked, adding that votes on the platform, “can be shifted around”.

While saying “No one will be able to stay in the US and vote,” a strident Dr Blake insisted they had “to think about the integrity of the process”.


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