Recall Petition Will Be Taken To Court

Yesterday the Elections and Boundaries Department held a press conference to explain why over three hundred signatures on the Cayo Northeast Recall Petition were rejected. Well, today the PUP had it's reply. And if you thought the party might have been chastened by the various shortcomings that undermined the petition, it was not. Instead the party was angry, saying that the Eelciton office is the one that got it all wrong. The party says it will challenge in court the validate of at least 140 of those rejections:..

Senator Lisa Shoman
"We believe that there are atleast and this is our first run through the evidence - 140 signatures of petitioners that ought not to have been rejected."

Hon. Francis Fonseca, PUP Party Leader
"We reject the finding and conclusion of the Chief Elections Officer. We reject the suggestion that there was no political interference in this matter. We reject the intimidation and threats that have been reported to us that were introduced into the so-called investigation process carried out by the Elections and Boundaries Department and we reject in the strongest possible terms the threat issued by the Chief Elections Officer on behalf of the United Democratic Party government to criminally persecute innocent voters of Cayo Northeast. We view this as a threat to the People's United Party and I strongly advised the Chief Elections Officer to desist from this course of action."

"Under the UDP Elvin Penner is free to walk around and collect his salary, but voters of Cayo Northeast are being threatened with criminal persecution and the politically controlled Elections and Boundaries Department has regrettably chosen the UDP over the people."

"The People's United Party will mount a strong serious legal challenge to this decision."

Senator Lisa Shoman
"We advised our Party, the legal team of the People's United Party has looked it over and we advised that the decision to reject the signatures can and should be challenge in the Supreme Court of Belize by judicial review on the basis that these decisions were unlawful, unreasonable and in many cases irrational."

As we noted, the person in charge of vetting the list was PUP Secretary General Myrtle Palacio - who is also a former Chief Elections Officer. She produced evidence which showed that persons who are registered voters were struck off as un registered:...

Mirtle Palacio, PUP Secretary General
"Mr. Manzanero was one of the 52 listed as not even registered. We found that he is a registered elector and also register in Cayo Northeast. We have Mrs. Tun who got into an accident and cannot properly sign as she usually do. Mrs. Tun, Mr. Moro, Mrs. Manzanero was taken off the list."

Hon. Julius Espat
"In the case of Mr. Alvan Gentle Jr. on the list that was sent back as rejected it shows that he was not a registered voter. Well, this is the fresh Election and Boundaries list that they provide to the secretariat and Mr. Gentle's name appears on the list."

Senator Lisa Shoman
"The intent of the exercise is to verify petitioners and so Mrs. Palacio has it right, that Elections and Boundaries personnel should be looking for every reason to qualify petitioners, not to disqualify petitioners."

Mirtle Palacio, PUP Secretary General
"These voters were literally huffed by the Elections and Boundaries Department. Whose power turned to might, pure and simple. Why? There is no standing, legal or otherwise to omit these voters under the Recall Representative Act."

In total 104 petitioners were stricken from the list because they were not registered at all, or not registered in Cayo Northeast. But 83 persons were stricken because they signed the petition more than once - which the Chief Elections Officer says is an offence. The PUP explained that it knowingly put such names on the list more than once because some people have changed their names or signatures since they became registered voters. The party didn't have the binders to check to see what the registered signatures were so it submitted more than one:..

Senator Lisa Shoman
"The Elections and Boundaries Department rejected out of hand 79 plus 4 signatures on the basis that they were duplicated and triplicated respectively. This is an unreasonable decision to take because the recall of elected representatives gives the department no such power."

Hon. Julius Espat
"Mr. Ian White goes by the name of also Ian Vasquez White or Mr. Ian Vasquez or Mr. Ian White. His drivers' license is under the name of Mr. Ian Vasquez, his passport is under the name of Ian Vasquez White, but his registration is under the name Ian White, so when we did the first amount and he came in as Ian Vasquez and we saw the drivers' license - everything was fine. We checked the binder; we went back out again and tell him that we need to sign this thing properly. He signed it 3 times. but we were not sure what Elections and Boundaries was going to accept, so transparency, we informed with pictures because we are not hiding anything - the man picture, signature, phone number - we gave election and boundaries every single information. We did their work for them and that is why some of the signatures are duplicated."

Senator Lisa Shoman
"We say therefore that the decision to disqualify voters because there were double or triple submissions are unreasonable, unlawful, illegal and irrational and those decisions will all be challenge on that basis."

Mirtle Palacio, PUP Secretary General
"83 plus voters have been arbitral disenfranchised. Even in the spirit of the law every effort is to be made to enfranchised people - this is post 1952, not disenfranchised voters. What we have presented quickly to you shows that in terms of validity there are major errors by Election and Boundaries Department. We are not completed but from what we have done - we can say that there are holes in what was presented yesterday by the Elections and Boundaries Department."

Senator Lisa Shoman
"So that should tell you who is sloppy now."

The party says it will now embark on political consultations in Cayo Northeast starting this weekend, while it prepares a legal challenge.

Channel 7