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Mar 1, 2012

Over 29,000 vote in Oceana’s Referendum

Close to thirty thousand registered electors voted on the issue of offshore drilling on Wednesday. By any stretch, it’s a huge turnout for a relatively short campaign that led to the mock referendum organized by the Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage. After fourteen hours of voting countrywide, the final results were tabulated by three o’clock this morning at the Oceana offices. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the story from start to finish.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The constant hum of scrutineers as they carefully reconciled each ballot cast during the People’s Referendum on Wednesday was a call and response that continued into the early hours of this morning.  A team of approximately twenty men and women, all volunteers who gave of their time willingly, huddled inside a makeshift counting station where they pored over each vote; a process easily described as redundant and lengthy.

Audrey Matura, Vice President, Oceana Belize

“In each box we have two counters and that counter has a tally and so we open the box for the first time with the lock so everybody could see and one person takes out the papers and when they take it out they show it to the person who is tallying and see that it’s a yes or a no and hands it to the other person who then keeps track of it.”

At 10:30 the supervisors were nowhere near the median for Belize District.  The counting was uninterrupted and perpetual.  What they were in search of were names which corresponded with specific constituencies in order to determine if there were multiple votes cast.

Audrey Matura

Audrey Matura

“In every area where they were voting we took down the names of the persons who voted and then we would cross tally and see if more than one time the persons name came up.  We need to do that because obviously there was some mischief being [done], trying to occur and sadly the people who were trying to do the mischief obviously are from the present government or the U.D.P., outright the U.D.P., their operatives and it’s just a reflection of how low they think of the people and what they would do. The other form of reconciliation that we would be doing is we’ll be looking at each box, what’s the total, looking at the ballot papers that we had, that we printed.  We know how many we printed, we know the serial number and we’ll be reconciling that to make sure that the amount of ballots that were in the boxes were the amount of what we finally got.”

And that conclusive figure was realized after several hours of calculation.  The exercise, nonetheless, was not meant to sway voting on Election Day despite offshore drilling being a hot-button issue.

Tanya Williams

Tanya Williams, Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage

“Our intention wasn’t trying to influence the election.  Our intention is to ensure that the Belizean people have a voice on this particular issue; it’s a very critical issue.  It affects our economy, our environment and our culture.  So in terms of influencing the election and what the election will look like that’s not our position and never was our intentions.”

Back at the counting station the team diligently endured the examinations, casting aside a total of a hundred and forty-three votes as spoilt ballots.

Audrey Matura

“We had a hundred and forty three spoilt ballots and when we say spoilt like there are some instances where people voted one way and then maybe changed their minds and they scratched it but we had to consider it as spoiled.  Some people put an x in the box and in the other one, they started a stroke; that was spoiled.  Some people it was clear that they used both boxes and so it had to be spoiled.”

At dawn the final tally for those against offshore drilling stood at twenty-eight thousand, two hundred and eight, representing ninety-six percent of the total who participated in the unofficial referendum.

Yasmin Andrews

Yasmin Andrews, Pollster

“I could say that these results, I am ninety-five percent sure that they are correct; however, the good thing when we were tabulating last night up to three a.m., when we were tabulating this morning and we were getting the results we could see that the aggregate results of the, now remember now when we also asked if people wanted the opportunity to go and vote alright, so when they actually went and vote look at the consistency and the reliability and validity of these results of these polls.  We said, again, ninety-four point three percent said no, eighty-nine percent equivalent said no and when they actually went to the polls and vote, look at the result ninety-six percent.”

The remaining four percent, a meager seven hundred and ninety-nine voters, were in favor of offshore drilling.

Yasmin Andrews

“There were some people who actually said yes to offshore drilling.  They were in the minority but they were saying yes.  So the reason we are having this referendum is not because we want everybody to come and say no, we want people to express their position on this particular issue.”

The next step for the Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage is to bolster its argument against oil exploration in Belize’s maritime boundary having had more than the requisite ten percent of the electorate voicing its disapproval for any such activity. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Voting was steady all day on Wednesday; in the city over nine thousand participated and the Cayo District placed second in the number of voters that turned out.

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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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14 Responses for “Over 29,000 vote in Oceana’s Referendum”

  1. javier solis says:

    Well, thats a big number saying no to drilling. We will have to pay for these contracts to be cancelled. Big money. Hope Oceana helps with this. So the next step is on-shore drilling? And then what? Let us see what the other 100,000 voters say on wednesday.

  2. No to offshore drilling says:

    A whopping 96% out of approx 30,000 Belizean voters said no to offshore drilling! Mr. Barrow, you refused to listen to your people, and this is an indication that on election day this will bite you in your royal @**. The good people of Belize want what is best for our present and future generations. 5 more days and the people will have their say, because you and your ignorant government shall be voted out and moved out of the way……

  3. truth says:

    AWESOME … This is what needs to happen every time our voices needs be heard. OCEANA did very well and catered for the persons who work in office giving them time to go vote after their days work..

    Thank you for helping US.

  4. LISTEN TO DA PEOPLE says:

    Strike 1 was the voting in the mock referendum. Strike 2 will be the results of the Municipal Elections, and Strike 3 will be the results of the General Elections. You neglected the voices of the people and rejected the signatures of 18, 000 Belizeans, and come Election Day the people will reject you! 29,000 plus numbers is a huge figure, and guess what all these voters are upset with you Mr. Barrow. Your time is up. THE UDP WILL BE VOTED OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. LISTEN TO DA PEOPLE says:

    Strike 1 was the voting in the mock referendum. Strike 2 will be the results of the Municipal Elections, and Strike 3 will be the results of the General Elections. You neglected the voices of the people and rejected the signatures of 18, 000 Belizeans, and come Election Day the people will reject you! 29,000 plus numbers is a huge figure, and guess what all these voters are upset with you Mr. Barrow. Your time is up. THE UDP WILL BE VOTED OUT

  6. Concern says:

    Well done! I hope the politicians use this information as a stepping stone and then we can surely say we are a democratic country.

    Proud of the Belizeans who came out to make their voices heard!

  7. Concern says:

    Gandhi’s words: “Democracy is not a state in which people act like sheep”

  8. Sniper says:

    Bunch of liars. There is no way that only like 5% of the peopke are for offshore drilling. Then again, all the leftist people will fight their cause 100 times harder as normal people do, so I say 27,000 people are against offshore drilling in this country. If 100% of the population voted, you still would have only your 27,000 votes against because all you green backers were out on wednesday. You have no more.

  9. Santa Elena Resident says:

    Sniper must be a UDP fanatic. You and your bunch of arrogant idiot ministers need to get the message in your stupid heads that we do NOT want any offshore drilliing!!!! You will get the full message next week Wednesday!!

  10. CEO says:

    Just pay attention Mr. Priminister and Mr. leader of the PUP! The people said no!

  11. Belizean says:

    I thought that this exercise was not political. I also do not think that this reflect that people want a change in government, what this exercise is saying that people want to protect the environment. So we have to be a nation that balance development with environment.
    Also that does not even mean that the actual government can change is position since you have people in both sides that is willing to dialogue. Hopefully this is not the case of an organization trying to deceive us as Belizean, if they are true to this cause, good Job OCEANA, the only thing is that Ms. Matura needs to be stop playing games or some of its candidates, because I support OCEANA and this NGO’s, not the political ones, on this movement.

  12. Ashley says:

    @Sniper lol so people who voted against off shore oil drilling are for the money. My brain is about to explode from your sheer lack of knowledge.

    The only people who will see money from these projects are the oil companies (the will invest billions into this and reap a higher percentage than belize) and the politicians pockets they are filling.

  13. concerned says:

    let us see where we are. those crazy environmentalists do not want drilling offshore, on protected land, their backyard, and god knows where else. so what did they use in those mobile polling boot called vehicles to move it. you guessed it gasoline or diesel. not a horse or people pushing. if those crazy environmentalists wanted to make a statement, audrey and giovanni and malanie should have pushed the vehicle around. just my two cents.

  14. Hairy Oily Rich Man says:

    Ashley – perhaps just wait until you are in the drivers’ seat (which obviously will not happen). There are not many worse ways to completely kill a nation than to stop development. I’m sure you were the girl in primary school who always added 2+2 and got 100 then cried about it when corrected. If we have this oil supply beneath the ocean floor, get it. Your fancy reef will not last either way. Now don’t try to come back and say the politicians will mess it all up. Tell me about one country where politicians have not had their hands in EVERYTHING. Oh almost forgot – do something about your brain.

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