Friday, June 21, 2024

Low voter turnout in recent Municipal Elections


Following the municipal elections across the country on March 6th, a low voter turnout was observed, with few young or first-time voters reporting at the polls. Although the number of registered electorates increased in San Pedro Town, the turnout was slightly lower than in the 2021 Municipal Elections.
In the 2021 Municipal Elections, there were 7,983 registered voters on the island. The turnout was 69.22%. During this year’s electoral process, 62.01% of the 8,704 exercised their right to vote in San Pedro. Many of the populace considered this low turnout a lack of interest. Some of the candidates in the municipal elections said that many eligible voters have lost confidence in the electoral process. Others think Belizeans are ready for a third party and are tired of the only two choices, the People’s United Party (PUP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP). As a result, many choose to abstain from voting.
According to information from the Elections and Boundaries in 2021, the voter turnout nationwide was 55%. Despite an increase in 2024 with 57.71% across the country, the turnout was still below expectations. The municipalities with the highest voting participation were Orange Walk Town, 64.53%; San Pedro, 62.01%; and Punta Gorda Town, 61.36%.Prime Minister Honourable Dr. John Briceño commented on the low turnout by the younger generation. “They are not thinking about what the government is doing. They are concentrated on schoolwork, their social life, or concentrating on trying to get settled in their work, and that has been not only in Belize but all over the world,” Briceño told the media. “It takes time for young people to really start to get engaged. That is normal. Once you hit 30 years and above you see that people start to become more concerned about the government, because they have families and they need to make sure where their children go to school, they need to make sure that there is a good hospital, scholarships, and where to get a decent job.” The prime minister said that as young people become adults, they become more aware of the politics and the country’s leaders. He added that he and his party, the PUP, did their part and made sure their supporters came out to vote.
Despite an electorate participation of under 60%, the PUP swept the country. They won eight of the town and city council municipal elections: San Pedro Town, Belize City, Belmopan City, Orange Walk Town, Corozal Town, Benque Viejo del Carmen, Dangriga, and Punta Gorda Town. The UDP secured the twin town municipality of San Ignacio/Santa Elena in the Cayo District with a mixed town council, a UDP Mayor, five Councillors and one Councillor from the PUP party.

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