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Feb 26, 2009

Elections & Boundaries Dept. ready for municipal elections

Story PictureTurning to the March fourth elections, eighty-six thousand six hundred and twenty-seven residents are eligible to vote in the poll. The voters will be choosing from one hundred and sixty-four candidates, vying for fifty-seven seats. And with the big day less than a week away, the election machinery in the political parties as well as the preparatory works at the Elections and Boundaries Department are proceeding at full steam. This afternoon, we checked in on Chief Elections Officer Ruth Meighan, who reported that they are right on schedule.

Ruth Meighan, Chief Elections Officer
“We have everything almost completed. As a matter of fact, we’re in the final stage of the printing of the ballots now. These will be distributed to the returning officers on Monday and Tuesday, but generally speaking, we are well ahead of things and we are ready for the elections.”

Kendra Griffith
“Are there any changes in this year’s elections that we should be aware of?”

Ruth Meighan
“Other than the fact that for municipal elections, we have one counting station and for the politicians and other stakeholders decided that for expediency sake, the counting usually takes like until the next morning. We don’t want that to happen this year so we decided that in Belize City we will do the counting similar to the general elections where we have the counting in the different divisions like in Freetown, Port, wherever. We do the counting instead of having it all done at the City Centre. Likewise, in Orange Walk and San Ignacio, we’re going to have the counting done at three different counting stations just to get the counting done as quickly as possible. Same rules apply with the cell phones and the other thing that we have done, the change this year is the law makes provision for a ban on the sale of alcohol, so we have extended that to after the counting because the police are saying after polling people say okay now it’s time for us to hit the bottle. So we’ve decided to extend that time. We have the firearm prohibition in the polling station, no cameras, no telephones and any kind of electronic devices in the polling station outside of the hundred yards line, so we want to keep it that way. Compared to last election, this one is smoothing sailing because knowing that we had an election coming up and having an idea of what it involved, we started early, so the pressure is not there and the politicians have been quite easy on us this time, because there isn’t a lot of requests from them out of the ordinary, so we have been doing quite well.”

Three boxes will be counted at each polling station. Meighan predicts that the new procedure should cut down the counting time by at least half. On election day Channel Five will be teaming up with Love FM to bring you countrywide coverage. Our broadcast begins bright and early at six a.m. straight through to till the results come in.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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