July’s Re-registration regulations explained by Elections and Boundaries
Saturday, May 19th, 2018
After close to 20 years, Belize will undergo a re-registration of voters, commencing on July 1, 2018. The main objective is to ‘clean’ the existing list and ensure that everyone on it is qualified to participate in future elections, including the referendum scheduled to take the long-standing Guatemalan claim on Belize to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) next year in April. The Government of Belize has allotted an $8 million budget for the entire process, and according to Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai, there are certain regulations one must meet in order to be eligible to register.
Tamai explained that a person must be 18 years old and a citizen of Belize or a citizen of a Commonwealth country who has resided in Belize for no less than 12 months. “In order to be qualified as a registered elector in a particular division, persons must reside at that specific address for no less than two months,” Tamai told reporters. “Persons who come to the registration centers are required to bring along with them their original birth certificate and a photograph as well.” She added that the photograph can be one which is signed, stamped, and certified by a Justice of the Peace. Additionally, the social security card will be accepted as a form of identification or a valid passport.
In the case of naturalized Belizeans, they must bring along either their Belizean Passports or nationality certificates. “If the nationality certificate does not have a photograph, then those persons will be required to bring along a picture ID, signed, stamped and certified by a JP,” said Tamai. She further explained that for those females who have married and don’t have any identification cards in their married name they must present the marriage certificate in order to register. “Anyone who has changed their names must bring their deed poll along with a birth certificate,” Tamai said. “As for Belizeans living abroad, one of the qualifications is to reside in Belize at the specific address for at least two months.” In the case of Belizeans working abroad for the Government of Belize or receiving medical attention, these will still be considered residents and can apply to be registered.
The $8 million budget will cover staffing costs, given the fact that some 300 additional persons will be needed for the process. The budget will also cover costs for the equipment necessary to verify that each applicant qualifies. In addition to these expenses is the new voter identification cards, which will be equipped with security features. Other aspects that are included in the re-registration process are the investigations that will be carried out to confirm applicants’ eligibility.
The entire re-registration process is expected to last until December 2018, with 100 registration centers across the country. Everyone is advised that registration will only take place in July and August, and persons who may want to register after this period will need to apply at the Elections and Boundaries offices. According to Tamai, the cut-off date for registration is March 10, 2019.
With the referendum to take the Guatemalan claim on Belize to the International Court of Justice, Elections and Boundaries encourages anyone who is eligible to re-register. According to Tamai, the department will facilitate disabled persons, anyone living in rural areas and even assist those who may not have the money necessary for the documents required.
Presently, the number of registered voters in Belize amounts to 204,802. Elections and Boundaries estimates that at the end of the re-registration, the amount will reach at least 200,000.
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