On Wednesday, both major political parties are expected to take out their supporters in numbers as they head to the various offices designated for nomination centers, countrywide. There, after a vetting process by the presiding officer, it becomes official for their names to be printed on the ballots for the upcoming municipal elections on March seventh. A total of sixty-seven seats are available in the nine municipalities, including two city and seven town councils. Aside from the two main political parties and the B.P.P., there is an independent mayoral candidate in the city and now an emerging party in Dangriga; the Unity Upliftment Party that has indicated it will field a slate in the south. Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai breaks down the process that the political aspirants must satisfy to qualify.
Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer
“In order for persons to qualify to get nominated, these persons, for Belize City especially, these persons have to be a citizen of Belize and a voter. In Belmopan City and the towns, you have to be a citizen of Belize and a registered voter of that municipality. And those persons, like you rightly mentioned, need to bring two persons along with them in order to nominate them. These two persons must be registered voters for the municipality. So they have to ensure that these two persons are registered voters in that municipality for you to be able to nominate somebody. Nomination commences at ten a.m. and concludes at four p.m. We had a meeting last week whereby the political parties and persons interested in contesting the elections, where it was agreed that nomination for the People’s United Party will commence at ten up until twelve noon. From twelve noon, up until two, we have the B.P.P., any other interested political party and the independent candidates. Also from two up until four p.m., we have the United Democratic Party. That does not mean that if any person who wants to come and get nominated outside of their allotted time, they cannot come; they will be able to come in and do their nominations because the law provides from ten a.m. until four p.m. So it is just an agreement so that people don’t have any clashes to try to separate the political parties.”
No Cell Phones in the Voting Booth
Nomination Day paves the way for Election Day. The voters list for the municipal election shows that there are one hundred and fourteen thousand five hundred and seventy-four persons eligible to vote, as of January tenth, 2018 – which was the final day of registration for the voters in the March elections. There are more women than men: fifty-eight thousand three hundred and fifty-three compared to fifty-six thousand two hundred and twenty-one, who are men. There is also an increase in the younger voting population. While generally the process remains the same, Tamai says that the use of cell phones when inside the polling stations is prohibited.
Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer
“The process remains the same, but I’ll tell you in terms of the issue when it comes to the use of cell phones, we’ve always had problems with persons attempting to use cell phones in the polling station. So this time we have gone one step further to ask the presiding officers to please ensure that they inform the voters that the use of cell phones is prohibited within the polling stations. Actually, S.I. number forty-four of 2008 is the law in force which prohibits the use of those cell phones. So we have asked the presiding officer to ensure that they inform persons to put away their cell phones because if persons are found using their cell phones within the polling stations, then the presiding officers will take action and the person will be charged. So we will encourage persons to not take your cell phones in; but the law doesn’t prohibit you from taking it in, but it prohibits the use of it. So you cannot be answering a telephone call, you cannot be texting or taking photographs or doing anything because again the law prohibits the taking of photographs, recordings within the polling stations.”
The San Pedro Town Council hereby advises the general public that its offices will be closed tomorrow, February 21st, 2018, due to Elections 2018 Nomination Day.
We will resume to regular working hours on Thursday, February 22, 2018.
We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause.
Drivers are advised to avoid the town center Wednesday the 21st unless you are supporting the political parties. It will be very busy and Barrier Reef Drive will be closed as the different political parties arrive at the Town Hall to carry out the nomination process. Please be patient if you are held up and follow any instructions given by the Traffic Wardens or Police.
We also remind people that there will be NO parking outside the Town Hall. Vehicles will be removed if they are in the way. We must allow both parties free access to the Town Hall.
Thank you for your under standing.