On the issue of transfers, cases of suspect transfer of voters are challenged in court by opposing political representatives. The problem lies with verification of addresses; this is to be carried out by the Elections and Boundaries Department but when resources are thin, so many fraudulent transfers slip through the cracks. In the following story, Hipolito Novelo looks at the court process.
Hipolito Novelo, Reporting
In front of the Orange Walk Magistrate’s court dozens of voters waited to be called before the magistrate who would determine if their transfer is allowed. In Orange Walk East alone there were nineteen objections by the People’s United Party. Objecting on behalf of the P.U.P. was Sylvia Gillett. She says that the persons who have transferred to Orange Walk East do not live there.
Sylvia Gillett, Objector
“We know for certain that these people do not live at where they went to transfer to. We have done our research, we have done our work and we have fond where exactly these people live. We are certain we have a strong case in each and everyone. Some of them are groups of threes, groups of fours, groups of fives that have gone to register at different addresses in the East. Some of them live in Guinea Grass, some live in August Pine Ridge, some live in Yo Creek. In some cases we have them persons followed the very same day they register or transfer we have the persons follow these persons back to theater addresses. So we see and know when they get back to their home, where they actually live.”
In the morning, three objections of the P.U.P. for Orange Walk East were heard and all three failed.
Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney for P.U.P.
“There are a flurry of registration and transiting of voters from division from divisions. We started proceeding this morning. We just at the third one and we still have quite a way to go. In terms of the first three, the magistrate found, was of the view that a person may be able to have more than one residence.”
Attorney for the U.D.P., OJ Elrington says that the objector failed to satisfy the court.
Orson ‘OJ’ Elrington, Attorney for U.D.P.
“The P.U.P. were objecting to three person being register in the Orange Walk East constituency. Their objector presented their case. There were three other witnesses beside the objector but after having presented their evidence I made a no case submission on the basis that they did not meet the necessary threshold for us to even resent a case. So the judge ruled in our favor and struck out the first three objections presented by the P.U.P.”
P.U.P. Standard Bearer for Orange Walk East Kevin Bernard says that while his campaigners managed to gather enough evidence to prove that the persons do not live at the given address, the problem is the system.
Kevin Bernard, P.U.P. Standard Bearer, Orange Walk East
“It is a very tough process to bring an objection especially to try get somebody off the voters list. It is us to show evidence to show that these persons do not live there. We cannot bring other evidences but it is the way the sister is set up. It is always a tough thing and that is one of the reasons why in many occasions people refuse to do objections. It is not set up the right way.”
Meanwhile, Area Representative Elodio Aragon Junior is claiming victory, saying that the P.U.P.’s objections are merely a political stunt.
Elodio Aragon Jr., Area Rep., Orange Walk East
“The P.U.P. has taken a number of people to court. They have done this last year. They do this every election year so this is no different than any other election year. They have taken people to court and we have taken some people from them to court likewise. The court just finished and the court found out that they had no basis on what to stand out and therefore those cases were thrown out.”
In Orange Walk Central, the P.U.P. is objecting to nine transfers and registration application. The main objector is Eugenia Novelo and she says that the persons on the list do not live in Orange Walk Central.
Eugenia Novelo, Objector
“Some live in Yo Creek and Trial Farm. We done visit the houses and they don’t live at the address that they give.”
“How many times did you visit, what if they were not at home?”
“Several times, as a name pop in our registration list we want to check up who is that person.”
But attorney for the U.D.P. Darrell Bradley says that Novelo could not have checked all the applicants and their addresses. Bradley says that objections are not valid.
Darrell Bradley, Attorney for U.D.P.
“These are objections brought by one individual and our view is that the objections are not valid. The burden is on them to satisfy the court that their objection is valid and I don’t see how one person can make an objection to twenty-four people. In some case I mean the particular constituency is rather large. You have objections being made in San Estevan Village. You have the objector living at a particular address. How can you tell me that you know that these twenty four people do not reside at a particular area especially when the area is so spread out and wide.”