Registered voters countrywide will go to the polls on March 7th in a double election; General and Municipal. In some electoral divisions, like Belize Rural South (BRS), some electorates will go to the polls for the General Election only. Such is the case with the electorates of Caye Caulker and Caye Chapel with a total of 811 registered voters, combined. Ambergris Caye electorates, which is 6,289, will vote twice, once in the General and once in the Municipal elections. Combined, all three polling areas in BRS have 7,100 registered voters.
Speaking with all the candidates during a meeting on Friday, February 24th, the General Election Returning Officer for BRS Allan Genitty indicated that he expects that the election process will be peaceful. Genitty explained that all political parties and candidates are expected to conduct themselves in a civil manner and abide by the rules agreed upon.
No political booth or political banners/signs will be allowed within the 100-yard buffer area. In San Pedro, polling area 37 will be at the San Pedro High School. The 100-yard area extends around the circumference of the high school’s property. The buffer area includes the section of Spider Lily street that runs from the beach to the junction of Laguna Drive (all the section in front of the high school entrance). The 100-yard buffer area extends from the entrance of the school grounds midway down on Seagull Street.
Electors will cast their vote first for the General Election then proceed to vote in the Municipal Election. For the General Election, electors can only vote for one of four candidates that will appear on the ballot in alphabetical order. Once an elector votes for more than one person, that ballot will be considered a spoiled vote. In the case of Municipal Elections, the names of the three mayoral candidates will appear and 14 councilor candidates. The names of all seven members of the incumbent United Democratic Party team will appear first followed by the names of all seven candidates of the People’s United Party. Last on the ballot will be the names of all independent candidates. Electors should vote for one of any of the three mayoral candidates and any six of the 14 councilor candidates. The ballot is deemed spoiled if an elector votes for more than one mayoral candidates or more than six councilor candidates.
According to Genitty, to make the election process easier, electorates are encouraged to bring along their Voter’s Registration Card (ID) on Election Day or any other form of picture identification card. At Polling Area 37, there will be nine polling station divided into alphabetical blocks clearly labeled as A-B, C, D-F, G, H-L, M-N, O-Q, R-S and T-Z. The letters corresponds to the first letter of the elector’s surname and indicates which line he/she should take to cast their vote.
Once inside the polling station, you will be required to present an ID or any form of picture identification. Where an elector does not have a picture ID, his/her name will be searched in the Elections and Boundaries Department Voter’s Binders to verify the identity of the person. Once the identity of the elector is established, his/her name will be called out loud. The person will then dip his/her index finger of his right hand into violet color ink. The person will then be issued with a ballot that has the signature of the Presiding Officer. He/She will then proceed to the booth and cast their vote and fold the ballot paper. The elector then holds up the folded ballot paper for the election’s clerk to show the signature of the Presiding Officer after which the completed ballot is placed into a ballot box. The elector then proceeds to vote in the Municipal Election where the same process is repeated. The only difference in the procedure is that electors will dip their middle finger of his/her right hand in a rose colored ink. After the elector casts their vote, they then proceed to exit the polling station. Electors are not obligated to vote in both General and Municipal elections.
Electors should not place any distinguishing marks on the ballot that can identify an elector or else the ballot paper will be considered spoiled. If an elector cannot vote for him/herself, the Returning Officer will allow a family member to accompany the elector to assist him/her in casting their vote.
Polls country wide will open at 6AM and voting starts 7AM. The polls close at 6PM at which point a police officer will stand behind the last person in line. Belizeans are encouraged to exercise their democratic voting rights for the person they feel can best address the issues in their community.
The San Pedro Sun has partnered with Channel 7 News and Krem Radio in a comprehensive countrywide coverage of the Election Day process. For live updates of the election process and results on Election Day, you can visit The San Pedro Sun website at www.sanpedrosun.com.