The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (EOM/OAS) that observed the general elections in Belize on November 4, 2015, on Wednesday presented a report to the OAS Permanent Council highlighting the procedures and systems “that generated a generally inclusive and clean electoral process”.

The mission commended the open lines of communication between electoral authorities and political parties throughout the pre-electoral period, as well as the improved methodology implemented for the tabulation and processing of results.

The report, presented by the chief of mission, Jacinth Henry-Martin, included a series of recommendations addressing issues such as the participation of women and young persons, campaign financing, electoral management and voter registration.

The mission also recommended taking measures to ensure greater integrity and confidence in the voters list, such as the comprehensive re-registration of voters, a review of the current electoral legal framework and the adoption of measures to enhance the neutrality of electoral administration.

The issue of campaigning in and around polling stations was named as a concern for the mission, which pointed out that on election day, “The active presence of large groups of political party supporters outside of voting centers, could produce an environment that would make it uncomfortable for some voters to express their preferences without feeling outside pressure.”

In that sense, the report encouraged efforts ”to protect the ability of voters to exercise their franchise without outside pressure, particularly stricter and more uniform enforcement of the law that prohibits political activity within a 100-yard boundary around polling stations."

The permanent representative of Belize, Patrick Andrews, thanked the mission and the OAS for the report and informed of the efforts the country is already doing to address some of the recommendation presented by the EOM, including redistricting, registration of voters, efforts to increase participation of women and young persons, campaign financing legislation and the distribution of responsibilities among electoral management bodies.

“Belize looks forward to the report, and congratulates the OAS for its continued effort in the area of electoral observation throughout the hemisphere,” he concluded.

On election day, the OAS observers visited all six of the country’s political districts and more than 72% of the country’s 225 polling stations.

Caribbean News Now