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Mar 2, 2018

Parties face off in final pre-election meeting

On Thursday, another pre-election exercise was observed: the meeting hosted by the Election and Boundaries Department and returning officers of the nine municipalities being contested on March Seventh. For two hours at this year’s designated counting station, the ITVET on Freetown Road, returning officer Colin Griffith briefed candidates of both parties and their support machines of the ins and outs of Election Day from sun-up until the last vote is counted. News Five’s Aaron Humes was there to speak to the chief officials of both major political parties.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

There is a certain familiarity between the People’s United Party and United Democratic Party, who have faced each other across the ballot box since the latter’s formation in 1973. Political parties may come and go but these two have been the constant. The former seeks the latter’s crown across the country next Wednesday. But there were no hostilities today as they and others met in Belize City with the people responsible for the conduct of the election.

 

Henry Charles Usher, Chairman, P.U.P.

Henry Charles Usher

“Let me express my appreciation to Mr. Griffith for arranging this meeting with the political parties and all the candidates, so that we can know exactly what is going to happen on Election Day. It is a very important process and I really appreciate that the public officers that will be presiding officers in the various polling stations are here as well. In terms of the rules and regulations, we know what’s going on; it’s pretty much the same. Polls will be open at seven, closing at six; we know about the hundred-yard line, we know about the rules for polling agents, counting agents and so on. So there’s not really much new, but it’s good to go over the rules from time to time.”

 

Alberto August

Alberto August, Chairman, U.D.P.

“This time around the Elections and Boundaries Commission has approved the use of laptops inside the polling stations, so that is going to be a new undertaking as we advance in the use of technology. But we are preparing for it and that is one of the major new additions to the process.”

 

Aaron Humes

“So the laptops would be where the voter lists are stored and that sort of thing?”

 

Alberto August

“Inside of the polling stations; it will be used to transmit the information as to the people who are voting inside the polling station to their political parties outside. But one of the major restrictions for the Commission and the Department is that they will not be allowing any picture-taking devices inside the polling station.”

 

Aaron Humes

“So no cell phones, that sort of thing?”

 

Alberto August

“Right. The only persons who can have cell phones, according to them, inside the polling station, as normal, are the Election Day workers.”

 

Having only ever lost two of them, it was the late Rt. Hon. George Price who said that elections are won on Election Day. By that he meant the machinery to get out the vote early and often and in enough numbers that the result favors the most resourceful. For much of the last twelve years the U.D.P. has had the decided advantage. But the P.U.P. aims to spring a shock on Wednesday.

Henry Charles Usher

“It’s important that you have a machinery; it’s important that you bring out your voters, and it’s important that you make sure you get all of your support in and the X’s on the ballot papers as soon as you can on Election Day. We have to go with how the list is right now – this election will be determined by the list that is there right now in Belize City. And we are doing our best to make sure that first we find all the voters, because there are a lot of shadow voters and absentee voters in a lot of the constituencies. So we’re doing our best to try to find them, bringing them out and making sure that they cast their vote.”

 

Alberto August

“Our machinery will be working. Our objective of course is to get out the voter, and we’ll be doing that. So if [voter turnout] is low, the vast majority of course is coming out of our camp, because our people know and they understand that elections is all about bringing out the voters on Election Day. And our machinery should be well fine-tuned for that purpose.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

In Belize City, all counting will take place at the ITVET beginning as usual at eight p.m. All eighty-five boxes representing twenty-nine polling areas will be counted simultaneously after reconciliation to, hopefully, produce a final result earlier in the evening.

 

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