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Mar 8, 2012

Low voter turnout and districts that counted

There were highs and lows throughout Wednesday night as the results of the elections started to come in. At about one-thirty this morning, the U.D.P. reached the magical number of sixteen with a win in Corozal Bay and then went on to win one more seat. The opposition won fourteen, up from six seats it previously held showing a remarkable comeback. Francis Fonseca assumed the leadership of the P.U.P. in October; he faced three resignations this year, but came close to victory. News Five’s Jose Sanchez looks at the voter turnout in the different constituencies.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Of one hundred and seventy-eight thousand and fifty-four registered voters one hundred and eleven thousand six hundred and seventy-nine votes were cast across the country, that is sixty-three percent of voters participated in the General Elections. The districts with the lowest voter turnout were Stann Creek, which only had forty-seven percent with six thousand four hundred and thirty-two and Toledo only had forty-nine percent with six thousand two hundred and sixty-four. Corozal had the highest percentage with seventy-five percent at eighteen thousand six hundred and one followed by seventy-three percent turnout for Orange Walk with twenty thousand one hundred and thirty-three.  Only 59 percent of Belize City residents voted which was thirty-four thousand six hundred and eighty-three.

The electoral divisions with the lowest voter turnout included Fort George with forty-nine percent; Belize Rural North with forty-eight percent turnout; Cayo South with forty-five percent; and the lowest was in Dangriga which only had twenty-six percent turnout. The highest turnout was in Corozal Southwest with eighty-two percent of its voters casting their ballots, all Corozal and Orange Walk divisions had over seventy-three to seventy-eight percent turnout with only the exception of Corozal Southeast, which had sixty-six percent turnout.

Of the twelve divisions in Belize District where both party leaders sit, the highest voter turnout was at sixty six percent in Queens Square, the PM’s division and sixty four percent in Freetown, the Leader of the Opposition’s division. In the Collet only fifty-one percent of the voters came out so analysis shows that in the district that holds one third of the nationals, of the twelve constituencies, nine went to the U.D.P. and three to the P.U.P. Those nine victories verify that the Belize District is a stronghold for the U.D.P.  However, that party has been weakened in the other districts.

The reverse also holds through for the P.U.P. which has only three wins of thirteen possible seats.

Lee Mark Chang

But the day opened at seven a.m. and inside the command Center at Channel Five, the panel of political experts, William Neal, Stewart Leslie, Rene Villanueva senior and Francis Gegg collected and discussed the information sent in by the reporters of Five and Love.  In Freetown the U.D.P. was confident.

Lee Mark Chang, U.D.P. Freetown

“We are relaxing, wining down from a stressful day. I think we are very confident we will win.”

Kent Clare, Returning Officer, Freetown Division

Kent Clare

“At the end of the polling, at the end of the counting, Mister Lee Mark Chang garnered one thousand four hundred and eight votes. Mister Francis Fonseca garnered one thousand five hundred and fifty-weight votes and there were thirty-three rejected votes. Mister Francis Fonseca is hereby due elected as the representative for the Freetown Electoral division.”

Lee Mark’s loss was unexpected for the U.D.P. The P.U.P. also suffered a terrible blow in the Lake I. and Albert Divisions both considered sure seats in P.U.P. stronghold. Newcomer, Herman Longsworth, for the U.D.P. won in Albert.

Herman Longsworth

Herman Longsworth, Albert Area Representative

“I appreciate what happened here today. We can’t take away the fact that the people of Albert came out and they said that I am the best person to represent them in Albert; they feel that what I bring is the best thing for Albert. And so we must be cognizant that people are seeing and they are feeling and thinking and we must never forget that.”

Carmen Barrow, Reporter

“So going forward after you celebrate tonight and over the long weekend, come Tuesday morning, what is the first thing that Herman Longsworth, Area Representative for the Albert Division and the United Democratic party, what do you see going forward?”

Herman Longsworth

“I will be on the ground. We need to organize the  constituency in a way that will allow us to be able to achieve the thing that we need to achieve.”

Harry Arzu

The PUP gained outside the Belize district.

Harry Arzu, Reporter

“The results look like this: For the P.U.P.s it is a total of one thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine votes and for the U.D.P.s one thousand three hundred eighty-six votes. It appears that from the4se results it would appear that Mister Rodwell Ferguson for the P.U.P. is leading.”

Julius Espat

Rhonda Crichton, Reporter

“At this point Julius Espat in the lead with one thousand and fifty-one votes. All of those votes were to go to Mister Witz; it is evident that Mister Espat is the new area representative for Cayo South.”

Mario Lopez

“From box H to L, the P.U.P. has one hundred and sixty-four votes meanwhile Manuel Heredia Junior has two hundred and sixty-two votes. This is unofficial and it gives you a margin of ninety-eight votes in the lead at this time. And information from the VIP; we got a trend of forty-nine votes for VIP, Mister Bobby Lopez. And of course independent candidate, Mister Bob Candle has six votes. These figures are unconfirmed and we will confirm them during the course of the night.”

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“I am satisfied that certainly in Belize City where I am able to actually see what’s happening on the ground, in every constituency we are in good shape. Some in better shape than others—some of course we are clearly far more stronger than in others. But in no constituency is there any sense that I get that we are in trouble.”

Before the night was over, and the votes were tallied, the U.D.P. had won 17 seats forming the 2012-16 government. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

After the story was written, the figures were revised by the Elections and Boundaries. It shows that the voter turnout was at seventy-three percent with one hundred and thirty thousand, two hundred and fifty-eight votes cast.

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