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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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The Elections and Boundaries Commission (commission) hereby informs that the Government of Belize has provided funding for the redistricting exercise. As a result, the Commission has appointed a task force to set the groundwork, advise, and provide a detailed report with recommendations to the commission on the redivision of electoral boundaries.

The task force held its inaugural meeting on 21st February 2022. The members of the task force consist of persons with technical expertise in the areas of geographical information systems, legal studies, statistical analysis, and electoral management. These members are:

- Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer, Elections and Boundaries Department - Chairperson

- Paula Hender, Crown Counsel, Attorney General's Ministry - Member

- Shirley Humes, Principal Planner, Ministry of Natural Resources, Petroleum and Mining - Member

- Alfred Cal, Senior Lands Officer, Ministry of Natural Resources, Petroleum and Mining - Member

- Martin Aldana, Statistical Analyst, Private Sector - Member

Terms of Reference for the task force are as follows:

1. Review definition, limitations, and legal interpretation of the Belize Constitution and the Representation of the People Act for the purpose of dividing Belize into electoral divisions.

2. Review geographical and statistical limitations and population density relating to re-divisioning.

3. Review in accordance with Section 90 of the Constitution for electoral divisions as presently defined to have as nearly as may be, an equal number of persons eligible to vote.

4. Set allowable deviation threshold (tolerance limit) for each electoral division.

5. Maintain, as far as possible, electoral divisions within district administrative boundaries.

6. Include complete communities, within polling areas, in areas where possible.

7. Utilize geographic and physical features such as roads, rivers, crests of hills, park and/or estate boundaries as the relevant features to define the limits of electoral boundaries and polling areas.

8. All boundaries are to be contiguous that is, next to or touching each other and where this is not possible, utilize natural boundaries, physical features, and geographic referencing.

9. Keep adjustments to the minimum: transfer adjoining polling areas; or part thereof from the division with excess to the division with deficiency.

10. If a polling area is to be moved from one electoral division to another, complete villages and communities within the polling areas must be maintained, where possible.

11. Increase/decrease electoral divisions in areas where necessary.

12. Prepare detailed written description of electoral divisions to be incorporated into the First Schedule of the ROPA in accordance with Section 17 thereof.

13. Recommendations in respect of impediments and challenges including but not limited to:

a. Adjusting the existing boundaries and

b. Adjusting the existing numbers of electoral divisions

14. Provide detailed written report(s) to the Elections and Boundaries Commission for consideration.

15. Any other recommendations which the task force may deem necessary to ensure equal representation.

Upon receipt of recommendations from the task force, the commission, in accordance with Section 90 of the Belize Constitution, will make proposals to the National Assembly for boundary redistricting. The public is hereby assured that the commission has placed high priority on this most critical exercise which is expected to be concluded in the year 2023.

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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Elections & Boundaries Gets Green Light for Redistricting Exercise

The Elections and Boundaries Department has finally gotten approval to commence a long overdue redistricting exercise which will effectively see all thirty-one constituencies across the country being redrawn. This has not been done since 1998, resulting in an unequal distribution of registered voters in many constituencies. Government has identified funding for the activity and the Elections and Boundaries Commission has appointed a taskforce to make the necessary preparations. Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai spoke with the media this afternoon and explained how the process will work.

Josephine Tamai Chief Elections Officer

"These persons included persons with technical expertise in the area of geographical information systems, legal studies, statistical analysis and electoral management. As the release says, myself was appointed as the chairperson for this taskforce. We also have Ms. Paula Hender who is a crown counsel with the Attorney General's ministry and she will also deal with the legal aspects. We have Ms. Shirley Humes who is the principal planner from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Petroleum and Mining, she is also a member. Mr. Alfred Cal who is a senior Lands Officer also at the Ministry of Natural Resources, Petroleum and Mining and also Mr. Martin Aldana who isthe statistical analyst. The planning started a couple months ago and now with the appointment of these persons, we are ready to go and start the work for this exercise. We know that this is a huge exercise, it's an important exercise and as the commission mentioned to us as members of the taskforce, in terms of the expectations that they have, we know that many times people were saying, "Oh, you were behind in terms of conducting this exercise." But again, here we are today and going full steam ahead with getting this exercise done as the Government of Belize has already provided funding for us to do so."

Redistricting Set to be Completed by the End of 2022

The redistricting exercise has a timeline of approximately twenty-two months and will be carried out in various phases. According to Josephine Tamai, social research among the population is necessary to ensure that households fall squarely within a particular constituency. She also says that upon completion of this process, recommendations will be made to the Elections and Boundaries Commission which will subsequently present the changes to the National Assembly.

Josephine Tamai Chief Elections Officer

"The expectation is for us to complete before the end of next year which is 2023 because we know that this exercise entails several stages whereby we have to do the groundwork. We have to look at the electoral boundaries; we have to gather information in terms of population. So there are several things that need to get done. Once we commence that then´┐Ż Well right now we're actually in the process of gathering this information, so once we actually sit down to review all the information that we have then we also need to go out and do some fieldwork. You will know that sometimes, and yes we have some technology available in terms of getting this exercise done but again, sometimes you have to physically go and visit some of these areas to ensure that whenever the boundaries are redrawn that we don't have maybe the kitchen in one electoral division and the bedroom in another electoral division. So all this work needs to get done and once the taskforce is finished with its recommendations they will be submitted to the Elections and Boundaries Commission because we all know that the Elections and Boundaries Commission is the only body who can make recommendations to the National Assembly to change the electoral divisions."

Evening out the Odds in the Electoral Process

As mentioned earlier, the purpose for redrawing the respective electoral districts is to evenly distribute the number of voters, as best as possible to address the existing malapportionment.

Josephine Tamai Chief Elections Officer

"We all know that in terms of a redistricting exercise and the exercise has several benefits and one of them is to ensure that we have equal voting power. So what we need to do is to look at the present composition of the number of electors in each of the electoral divisions. So we have to look at our statistics. We also need to look at the present electoral maps, as it stands, in order for us to determine where the boundaries are and to see the discrepancies in terms of having persons in one specific area as opposed to another division. So we also need to look at those maps. We also need to get the information from the Statistical Institute of Belize in terms of population. We also need to see, for example, where exactly you have growth in different areas because at the end of the day, whenever all this information is being compiled we have to ensure that persons are: one, able to reach to their polling stations on Election Day as well. So yes, we have to look at nearly and maybe an equal number of persons in each electoral division as the constitution states but we also need to look at the whole geographical areas to ensure that transportation is available."

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