Chief Elections Officer Explains Process

Love FM News Director Rene Mendez talked this week with Chief Elections Officer Myrtle Palacio who told us how her her department is getting ready for elections on March fifth.

Myrtle Palacio - We have been preparing from 19-99. Preparations have started with a list of electors to make it free and fair. We can lose or omit anybody who has voluntarily registered and qualified to be on the list. This election on March 5 will be having two elections on one day but we are having two elections. We are having the general and a municipal election in the same polling station but what we have done is to accomodate for efficiency of movement of electors by adding more polling stations in all our polling areas that is going in to do an election. Out of a 130 polling areas only 43 less thatn a third will be experiencing dual elections. All the others will be experiencing one election, so the test for voting for mayor and councillor came at 2000 for us and that was quite successful in terms of the percentage of rejected votes for that election it was normal, so people understood what they were doing.

Palacio told us that they have devised a plan and will be running a voter education campaign.

Myrtle Palacio - This time the middle finger will be dipped for municipal election in a different colour indelible ink, so there will be two colours of indelible ink one for general, one for municipal. Two sets of officiates on e for municipal; one for general and we will have two sets of scrutineers, one for municipal, one for general.

Rene Mendez - What can you tell us at this time a lot of questions a lot of people have been asking or want to know more about the ballot paper itself, how is that been structured?

Myrtle Palacio - We went to elections 19-98 with 90 percent turn out and at a low percentage. Ballot papers will not make much difference, I just mentioned to you that we are going into two elections, so we have a ballot paper for general elections and one for municipal elections. We went into municipal elections voting using one ballot paper for mayor you remember that at 2000, right, for mayor and councillors. So nothing really has changed in terms of the process except thta we are doing it on one day and as I mention to you there are only 43 out of 130 polling areas, that will be going into duplicate elections and we have provided for an increase of polling stations whereby the population would have been about 700 in one polling station, we have decresed it to about 400, so that we can move people forward, more efficiently and more quickly. Also we are providing for the municipal election which we anticipate will take longer for two polling booths so that two per!
sons can be voting at the same time.


The Chief Elections Officer told us that reconcilliation and counting of ballots will be done at the same time.

Myrtle Palacio - So that staff, the election workers, returning officers, election clerks, counting clerks for municipal for example lets say Belize City will count all the ballot boxes at the City Centre as per usual and for general elections each constituency will go and count in the usual counting station, so it is separate people and all the counting will go simultaneosly. We have been training public officers to use the one method that night of counting. We cannot, we do not know what to anticipate in terms of what questions will arise in the counting station and I would not want to second guess regarding the length of time and officer takes or a certain section takes, What I am concerned about that everybody is satisfied in the long run.