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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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The Elections and Boundaries Department in San Pedro has come under fire after a UDP councilor candidate was found using the department's computer way beyond working hours. The incident unfolded shortly after 7PM on Tuesday January 17th, at the Election and Boundaries office situated on the second floor of #63 Barrier Reef Drive.

The Election and Boundaries Department is aware about the information and is expected to make a statement later today. Read full details of this story in this week's issue of The San Pedro Sun newspaper.

San Pedro Sun

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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Concerns are being raised about suspicious after hour activities at the
Election and Boundaries Department office in San Pedro town.

Maria Novelo reporting...
"The Opposition People's United Party here is raising concerns about
reports about questionable activities at the Elections and Boundaries
office. According to reports reaching Love News, word went out that just
after seven o'clock last night a councillor candidate for the incumbent
United Democratic Party was inside the Elections and Boundaries office
after hours. Milo Paz is the PUP Chairman for Belize Rural South.

Milo Paz - PUP Chairman, Belize Rural South
'A councillor candidate of the United Democratic Party was in the Election
and Boundaries office after hours working on the computer and it seemed
that he was getting information out of the database. When they arrived
there the gentleman was sitting right in front of the computer as the
pictures will show and we had other PUP members that came out to the office
during this same time after this gentleman had alerted us. We had asked
some questions, what responsibility or what was he doing behind those
computers, of course no answers were given. Today we know it was explained
that he was working on the computer. As far as we know he is no technician
for computers and that he had the camera of the Election and Boundaries in
his possession, why this happened. This has brought us to ask more
questions about what went on yesterday."

But the People's United Party is not alone in raising concerns about last
night's incident; the Vision Inspired by the People movement is also
speaking out. Chairman of the VIP is Robert Bobby Lopez.

Bobby Lopez - Chairman, VIP
"We know this is election time and Elections and Boundaries will be under
pressure to work overtime but what we saw last night is very disturbing and
demands an immediate investigation so that is what the VIP is calling for.
Questions need to be answered by the person in charge of this office,
nobody else beside them should be on there; you have access to the voters'
list and the voters' list only. Nobody from the public has access to
anything else especially to be on a computer with the database open and
actually behind the keyboard, this is very disturbing and I am calling on
Mr. August to definitely answer some questions for us. In fact we would
like the immediate suspension of the person in charge out here as of now
because it definitely creates doubt in the integrity of the office here on
the island and at this time nothing like that should be taking place. We
are very concerned and we are asking, I believe Mr. August is trying to put
all of this in order, he has assured us that anything that we find that we
have a little doubt about that we should inform him and I so I think this
demands his immediate attention. This person needs to be questioned, what
were you doing in there after hours, who gave you permission, gave you
access and what was actually done. This can be done easily by a computer
expert going in there and seeing because every computer has its history of
what took place so somebody can easily go in there. We are asking for
transparency in this particular incident to see exactly what was tampered
with, what was done on that computer and make it public."

Love News contacted Severo Guerrero via telephone this morning to get his
account of the incident as he was not present on the island. Guerrero says
that the allegations against him are false and while there is truth to him
being at the office, he says that he was asked by elections and boundaries
officer to help her with an excel program on her computer. According to
Mayoral Independent Candidate Melanie Paz while it is understood how
politics works, she is disappointed with the incident and calls for an
investigation to be carried out into the matter.


Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 732
...probably just playing Angry Birds or such.

'Vote early and vote often'

Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 8,880
Are these the same people that approved who was allowed to voice their opinion in favor of the clock tower?

A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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Allegations of voter tampering in San Pedro

The complaints at any election are constant; naturalization, registration and voter tampering. It all happened at the previous election and the U.D.P. belly ached. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the processes of naturalization and registration have been taken to a scandalous new level. In tonight's newscast, we look at the issue on many fronts. In San Pedro residents and politicians are up in arms with allegations of voter tampering at the Elections and Boundaries office. On Tuesday night, a political aspirant was caught inside the office with what looks like the election database. It has caused a huge outcry and an investigation is now ongoing. News Five's Andrea Polanco has that report.

Bobby Lopez, Chairman, VIP

"Well, I've seen the pictures and it's definitely a gentleman that is running for elected office here in San Pedro on the U.D.P. ticket; it is very disturbing. The integrity of the voter's list is very important."

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

And if a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, then it is anybody's guess what aspiring U.D.P. Councilor Severo Guerrero Jr was doing after working hours inside the Elections and Boundaries Belize Rural South Office. Around seven-fifteen on Tuesday night, Guerrero was discovered with pen in hand in front of the office's only computer. It is being speculated that he had the voter's list database open:

Milo Paz

Milo Paz, Chairman, P.U.P. Belize Rural South Constituency

"Yes, they found that, Mr. Severo Guerrero Jr was at the elections and boundaries around seven-fifteen to seven-thirty working on the computer used to enter the database and information for the electors in San Pedro. It was a concern of them at the time, and they ask what he was doing there and at no time, he answered. A couple other members of the PUP arrived and they met him with the same questions and he didn't answer. They were asked to leave the office; the office was closed with him inside still and a few minutes after that he left."

Andrea Polanco

"Mr. Paz, were you or other members of your team, able to determine if he had any personal belongings, like papers-documents or lists with him?"

Milo Paz

"Yes, actually we saw when he left, with papers and pens that he was using and we have pictures of, that he was writing and what he was doing, he was transferring names from the computer to a list that he was making at the elections and boundaries."

Andrea Polanco

"Mr. Paz, I believe, you or other members of your team, have been asking questions, were you able to find out what exactly he was doing in there or how exactly he got access to the building?"

Milo Paz

"No, at the moment we are not getting any answers. We have called the elections and boundaries office and they told us that the Belize Rural South main office is in Ladyville, but we haven't been able to get any answers as yet."

The VIP is calling for the suspension of Marilee Squires, the person in charge of the Elections and Boundaries Office in San Pedro.

Bobby Lopez

Bobby Lopez

"This is very disturbing and I'm calling on Mr. August to answer some questions for us, in fact we would like the immediate suspension of the person in charge out here because this definitely creates doubt in the integrity of the office here on the island and at this time nothing like that should be taking place."

The P.U.P. also says they want answers:

Milo Paz

"As the People's United Party in San Pedro, we are extremely concerned as to what was going on. We are asking the questions, what authority does this person, Severo Guerrero Jr, has to be in the elections and boundaries office, after working hours working on a computer and having the camera of the elections and boundaries at his disposal?"

Jorge Aldana, San Pedro Sun

"You say you have concerns, in what light do you have these concerns, why?"

Milo Paz

"Our concern is that I thought that a database of the electorate would be something that is protected that not anyone should have access to this database. I am talking openly because I'm not sure what he was doing, we are only thinking of what he was doing. And we think that this database should be protected and not anyone should have access, especially a councilor candidate for the U.D.P."

Independent Mayoral Candidate, Melanie Paz says she condemns these actions:

Melanie Paz, Independent Mayoral Candidate

Melanie Paz

"I was a bit shocked that he had access to the office and basically, I don't think he has any business being in there. This is basically a bit of the dirty party politics that the parties used in elections. These are the people who are to go to Central Government and represent the people and if this the way that they have to win an election, then what chance do we stand of having good representation?"

Jorge Aldana, San Pedro Sun

"Do you condemn these actions?"

Melanie Paz

"I absolutely do, I mean it is unfair not only to myself running as an independent candidate but to all the candidates of other parties independents that are in this same election."

Milo Paz says a formal police report was made to the San Pedro Police, to ensure that there was a record that the incident did occur. Reporting for News Five, I'm Andrea Polanco.

We contacted Guerrero for an interview but he told us via text message that he wasn't on the island; neither did he respond to subsequent phone calls. News Five spoke via phone with Josephine Tamai, the Chief Elections Officer in Belize City, who said that the Elections and Boundaries Department takes such allegations seriously and has since launched an investigation into the matter. Tamai said that Marilee Squires has been moved temporarily to the Central Office so they can facilitate the investigation.

Channel 5

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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UDP candidate gets unimpeded access to election database

Concerns are being raised about suspicious after hour activities at the Election and Boundaries Department office in San Pedro town. With a report, here is Love TV's Maria Novelo.


Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,822
JZB Offline
I hope he doesn't have the ability to 'delete' voters from that computer. Can you imagine a hundreds PUP or independent supporters showing up to vote and suddenly they are not on the list?? Scary.

Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 13,675
Let the games begin! The election this year is going to be a spectacle. Citizenships suddenly flowing out of Belmopan in time to register to vote, Mortgages being forgiven to purchase favour, The prime Minister kissing butts and babys, UDP setting the stage for a Watergate, never a dull moment!

White Sands Dive Shop
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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Saldivar Says Severo Situation Not Severe

It will be one of the most enduring images of the pre-election season, the sight of San Pedro UDP Councilor Candidate Severo Guerrero behind the computer at the elections and Boundaries Office in San Pedro, doing God knows what.

Chief Elections Officer, Josephine Tamai told us that the Officer in charge of the sub-office, Marilee Squires communicated to her that Guerrero was asked to assist in fixing a problem with the office's computer, except, Guerrero is known on the island to be a Dentist, not a computer technician. More than that, he is also a candidate in the upcoming Town Board elections. Squires has been recalled from her San Pedro posting and an investigation is underway.

As we understand it, Squire's first report was lacking in detail and she has been written to requesting that she provides a more detailed report. The Elections and Boundaries office is also awaiting the written report from the two officers who went to investigate yesterday. They have also called for the immediate suspension of Squires who, according to reports, has admitted that she was wrong for having Guerrero in the office. She has been sent on Administrative leave.

Today, Minister with responsibility for Elections and Boundaries, John Saldivar told the media that while the incident is regrettable, whatever Severo Guerrero was doing can have no effect on the final voters' list.

Here's his explanation:..

Hon. John Saldivar
"I can state categorically, Jules, that he had no business being in that office and the officer that had him in there has certainly exercised a great indiscretion and that will be dealt with internally. But at the same time I want to say that his being in there has not in any way compromised anything at all in the office because you will not have any access to any change within the system."

Jules Vasquez
"But he must know that there was going to be a purpose served?"

Hon. John Saldivar
"Whatever his purpose was, it could not have been in any way compromising of the system. That is all I can say."

Jules Vasquez
"You say that but......."

Hon. John Saldivar
"Because I know the system and he cannot get into that system."

Jules Vasquez
"I am a layman, he is going in there and he will take my name off the list because I am "a so and so" supporter."

Hon. John Saldivar
"He cannot do that."

Jules Vasquez
"Why is that?"

Hon. John Saldivar
"He cannot add/delete from the voters' list because the process by which somebody is added or deleted from the voters list is one that involves the court of Belize. It involves the publishing of these names, involves the public knowing that these persons are going to be put on or not put on the list, involves going to the court to argue before the court why they should or should not be on the list, involves an official publication which is available to all parties, political parties or interested persons, so you cannot just put or take someone off the list."

And so while the voters list is inviolable at the sub office level - Severo Guerrero still has not availed himself to offer an explanation of what he was doing behind the computer.

And tonight the computers at the Immigration Department in Belmopan will also continue to be humming late into the night as they were last night.

These pictures show activities at that office late last night - as they were the night before. Director Of Immigration Ruth Meighan has freely admitted that the office remained open to provide a service at the directive of her minister. And another naturalization session is expected tomorrow, the fourth in two weeks. So far, unofficial numbers say that just under 800 persons have been naturalized in this pre-election rush.

And, today the rush at that office continues, unabated; word is that another naturalization session is planned for tomorrow.

It's planned for the morning when all others have been done in the afternoon - and that's because tomorrow is also the deadline for registration - and the while idea is to get these new citizens registered as voters.

So tomorrow night, will it be the turn of the Election and Boundaries office to stay open late to facilitate the new registrants?

Minister John Saldivar says they will only go so far:..

Jules Vasquez
"We expect that tomorrow or tonight maybe the elections and boundaries offices will be open until late facilitating mainly UDP politicians with their new registrants for the next elections."

Hon. John Saldivar
"Facilitating persons attempting to get registered and I can tell you this: that only persons who have been at the office at the time of closing if they're in the office they will be facilitated. We will not just put them out, but no one will be able to get there after the closing time and be registered."

Jules Vasquez
"So it won't be that you all are open until 11:30pm?"

Hon. John Saldivar
"Only the persons in there at 5 o" clock when the office closes will be dealt with by the officers."

And tonight, the Elections and Boundaries office has one more issue to contend with. The PUP filed an application for judicial review against in the Supreme Court against chief Elections Officer, Josephine Tamai.

The issue is that the party had written to Tamai requesting permission for the for a member of the Corozal South East PUP Executive to visit the Registering Office and inspect the binders of voters, under the Representation of People's Act.

The PUP says The Chief Elections Officer yesterday wrote the Secretary General of the PUP denying this request.

The application challenges what the PUP calls an unreasonable refusal of the Chief Elections Officer.

Channel 7

What you doing in there, Doc?

An employee at the sub-office of the Election and Boundaries Department (EBD) on San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Marilee Squires, has been asked to go on administrative leave and faces formal suspension from her duties as the investigation of an incident on the island this past Tuesday night, in which an aspirant for the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP), Dr. Severo Guerrero, Jr., was found inside the office, begins.

Amandala understands that around 7:00 p.m., Guerrero was seen inside the office, seated in front of a computer, with several pieces of paper identified as voter registration lists spread out in front of him, and appeared to be alternately writing and looking at the computer.

Guerrero was eventually escorted from the office a few minutes later, after some of his opponents showed up questioning what he was doing in the office, but in his wake he leaves a host of mostly unanswered questions as to exactly what he was doing in the office at that late hour, on whose behalf, and with whose consent.

According to the San Pedro Sun, whose office is next door to the Department's, Guerrero claims he was called in to assist the elections officer "with a computer problem." But according to today's edition of the UDP newspaper, the Guardian, Guerrero is a dental surgeon, commercial fisherman and Justice of the Peace. It said nothing about him being a computer technician.

Today, chair of the EBC, Alberto August, confirmed to Amandala that upon receiving complaints of the incident on Wednesday, he contacted Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Josephine Tamai, who had not been told of what transpired, and asked her to begin an investigation and at its conclusion, issue a report to him.

August pointed out that legally, he as Chairman can do no more than that, as the Commission oversees the conduct of elections and election business, but the day-to-day affairs are tasked to the Department under the CEO.

The EBD office phone was busy when we called twice late this afternoon, but we have been provided with a report via email from Tamai to the members of the EBC, in which she states that the "issue in San Pedro is not being taken lightly by the department."

She goes on to state that after reviewing a report by Squires and speaking with her in Belize City this morning, where the officer reportedly admitted that "she was wrong for having the person [Guerrero] in the office," she saw the "urgent need to investigate further," and is now awaiting further information from two EBD officers sent out to the island on Wednesday.

The CEO said that she has submitted to the Ministry of the Public Service, for reference to the Public Service Commission, an immediate request for Squires' suspension during the investigation, and informed her of that.

The CEO also promises that the officer will not be sent to another EBD office, as "this may further create reasons for concern."

Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) has called for Guerrero to step down and for a formal investigation for "possible tampering with the San Pedro voters' list," and registered its concern that "the integrity of the voters' list may have been compromised and confidential information retrieved. Local officials for the Opposition People's United Party (PUP) and independent Mayoral candidate, Melanie Paz, have also spoken out against the candidate's actions.

Other late information to us is that the PUP have filed a claim for judicial review in the Supreme Court against CEO Tamai's refusal of a request by Corozal Southeast area representative and PUP Deputy Leader Florencio Marin, Jr., to peruse the binders for his division in light of the ongoing registration/citizenship rush taking place across the country. The Department claims that it cannot offer the proper supervision such a request entails due to work related to voter registration, which ends tomorrow, Friday.


Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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But the perusal of the binders is perhaps the least of the issues
confronting the Election and Boundaries Department in this highly charges
atmosphere heading into the Municipal Elections. The department suffered a
major embarrassment this week, when an incumbent councilor of the San Pedro
town council was busted behind the desk inside the Election and Boundaries
Office on the island, apparently going through the voters list. Tamai says
that the department under her watch is not taking the issue lightly. The
assistant registering Officer Marilee Squires has been suspended from
duties and a two-member team has been dispatched to San Pedro to
investigate the circumstances surrounding the disturbing occurrence.
Squires, according to reports reaching Love News, has admitted to her
supervisors that she was wrong for having the unauthorized person in the
office after hours. But the Chief Elections officer says she is confident
and the Belizean public can be assured that in no way was the voters list
compromised by the unauthorized access.

Josephine Tamai - Chief Elections Officer
"We out rightly condemned whatever has happened. There is no way that Mr.
Guerrero or anybody other than the registration officer should have been in
that office. Immediately upon hearing about it, we deployed two persons out
there to conduct an investigation. Their investigation is still ongoing,
but our preliminary report indicate that nothing has been tampered with in
regards to the voters' list because there is no way, the offices outside
don't have access to that information, all those are prepared here at the
central office. The person who went out to verify actually verified that
they checked the computer to ensure that nothing was deleted and they
checked it along with the record card so we know for sure. The public is
rest assured that in no way that information can be compromised. "

Patrick Jones - Reporter
But do you understand the public's outrage not to mention the political
fallout from this to see somebody who ought not to have been there seated
at the desk going through those files.

Josephine Tamai - Chief Elections Officer
"I understand and even as the chief Elections Officer that is something
that we don't take very lightly so what we did I made a recommendation to
the Public Services Commission through the Ministry of the Public Service
requesting the immediate suspension of the officer and that has been
approved so that officer has been on suspension pending further
investigation since yesterday."

Patrick Jones - Reporter
What is being put in place or what is there to ensure that something like
this will not re-occur, probably not in San Pedro but elsewhere in the

Josephine Tamai - Chief Elections Officer
"Well what we have done, we conduct training for our officers. We have
ensured that we send out correspondence reminding them, they are also
guided by Representation of the People's Act so we remind them of it
because at the end of the day we can only train, encourage them to ensure
that they do the right thing. At this Department we have no tolerance for
officers who choose to do otherwise."

Tamai says that any member of the general public who suspects that
something is not right or have borne witness to an irregularity can lodge
their complaints or make a report in writing to the Chief Elections
Officer, as the department relies on the public to help in the
administration of the election process.


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