The double election is now only a week and a half away - and all over the country, all over the news - election campaigning is at a fever pitch.
But on March 7th., the noise will stop when the voter gets into that booth for their secret, sacred transaction between the citizen and the ballot paper.
In the general election, 178,054 (one-hundred and seventy-eight thousand and fifty-four thousand) registered voters are registered to vote for 74 Candidates in 31 constituencies at 315 polling stations.
In the municipals, 97,979 voters will vote for 170 candidates at 168 of those polling stations.
But for those in towns who wish to vote in two elections, how will it be done? Well, today Chief Elections Office Josephine Tamai explained the process in detail to 7news:
Josephine Tamai - Chief Elections Officer
"On election day, persons must first vote for the general elections. The voter comes in, the voter goes to the presiding officer, the information is verified - the voter's information is being verified - once that information has been verified then that voter will be ask to show his or her right index finger. Once it hasn't been marked, the voter will then be asked to dip his or her right index finger to the first joint in indelible violet ink. That is for the general elections. Once the finger has been dipped, the voter will be issued with a ballet paper by the presiding officer. That ballet paper should have the initials of the presiding officer. The voter then goes to the voting booth where he or she places an x for the candidate who they wish to vote for. Once that has been completed, that person will fold their ballet paper to conceal their vote, but also to insure that they show the presiding officer his or her initials before they place it in the ballet box for the general elections. Once that has been done, in the same class room where that person is, he or she - the voter will just proceed to the presiding officer and the pole clerks for the municipal elections. The same process will go through where the information of the elector will be verified, and once that has been verified, the voter will then be ask to show his or her right middle finger to insure that it hasn't been marked. Once that process has been completed, then that person will be issued a ballet paper for the municipal elections, again that ballet paper should be initialed by the presiding officer. The voters then goes to the booth, and mark his or her x for the candidate or candidates who they wish to vote for."
Tamai also addressed the rumor that the printing of the election ballots was happening under shady circumstances - namely that it was being done in Guatemala and that a UDP candidate was involved.
Well those rumours are untrue - but there is a departure this year: for the first time in memory the ballots are not being printed at Print Belize - which is formerly the Belize printers.
Tamai says that they awarded the contract to BRC printers because their bid was much lower:
"Those ballot papers, the contract has been given to BRC printing which is a reputable printing firm in Belize. They have all the facilities and everything to do that. Actually we got quotations, the regulation that we are govern by require that we get quotations from different firms in terms of issuing out contracts to anybody. And when we looked at the cost, the costing that we receive from the firm who usually prints it, is almost 6-7 times the amount, that BRC is charging us. So we went in, we got a tour of the BRC facilities, and actually the ballots are being printed and we're well satisfied and were quite sure that the printing company is capable of producing these books to us in time. From Election and Boundaries'' stand point we have to insure that whoever is doing the printing; we always have supervision throughout the day, 24hours. We also have security at that facility to insure that everything that is being printed is what is handed over to the Election and Boundries Department."
As you saw in that footage, San Pedro is one of the only places where voters will have to choose between four colors on their general election ballot because there are two non-mass party candidates contesting the election, Bobby Lopez in Yellow and Mike Campbell in brown.