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Jan 18, 2012

Allegations of voter tampering in San Pedro

The complaints at any election are constant; naturalization, registration and voter tampering. It all happened at the previous election and the U.D.P. belly ached.  Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the processes of naturalization and registration have been taken to a scandalous new level. In tonight’s newscast, we look at the issue on many fronts. In San Pedro residents and politicians are up in arms with allegations of voter tampering at the Elections and Boundaries office. On Tuesday night, a political aspirant was caught inside the office with what looks like the election database. It has caused a huge outcry and an investigation is now ongoing.  News Five’s Andrea Polanco has that report.

Bobby Lopez, Chairman, VIP

“Well, I’ve seen the pictures and it’s definitely a gentleman that is running for elected office here in San Pedro on the U.D.P. ticket; it is very disturbing. The integrity of the voter’s list is very important.”

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

And if a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, then it is anybody’s guess what aspiring U.D.P. Councilor Severo Guerrero Jr was doing after working hours inside the Elections and Boundaries Belize Rural South Office. Around seven-fifteen on Tuesday night, Guerrero was discovered with pen in hand in front of the office’s only computer. It is being speculated that he had the voter’s list database open:

Milo Paz

Milo Paz, Chairman, P.U.P. Belize Rural South Constituency

“Yes, they found that, Mr. Severo Guerrero Jr was at the elections and boundaries around seven-fifteen to seven-thirty working on the computer used to enter the database and information for the electors in San Pedro. It was a concern of them at the time, and they ask what he was doing there and at no time, he answered. A couple other members of the PUP arrived and they met him with the same questions and he didn’t answer. They were asked to leave the office; the office was closed with him inside still and a few minutes after that he left.”

Andrea Polanco

“Mr. Paz, were you or other members of your team, able to determine if he had any personal belongings, like papers-documents or lists with him?”

Milo Paz

“Yes, actually we saw when he left, with papers and pens that he was using and we have pictures of, that he was writing and what he was doing, he was transferring names from the computer to a list that he was making at the elections and boundaries.”

Andrea Polanco

“Mr. Paz, I believe, you or other members of your team, have been asking questions, were you able to find out what exactly he was doing in there or how exactly he got access to the building?”

Milo Paz

“No, at the moment we are not getting any answers. We have called the elections and boundaries office and they told us that the Belize Rural South main office is in Ladyville, but we haven’t been able to get any answers as yet.”

The VIP is calling for the suspension of Marilee Squires, the person in charge of the Elections and Boundaries Office in San Pedro.

Bobby Lopez

Bobby Lopez

“This is very disturbing and I’m calling on Mr. August to answer some questions for us, in fact we would like the immediate suspension of the person in charge out here because this definitely creates doubt in the integrity of the office here on the island and at this time nothing like that should be taking place.”

The P.U.P. also says they want answers:

Milo Paz

“As the People’s United Party in San Pedro, we are extremely concerned as to what was going on. We are asking the questions, what authority does this person, Severo Guerrero Jr, has to be in the elections and boundaries office, after working hours working on a computer and having the camera of the elections and boundaries at his disposal?”

Jorge Aldana, San Pedro Sun

“You say you have concerns, in what light do you have these concerns, why?”

Milo Paz

“Our concern is that I thought that a database of the electorate would be something that is protected that not anyone should have access to this database. I am talking openly because I’m not sure what he was doing, we are only thinking of what he was doing. And we think that this database should be protected and not anyone should have access, especially a councilor candidate for the U.D.P.”

Independent Mayoral Candidate, Melanie Paz says she condemns these actions:

Melanie Paz, Independent Mayoral Candidate

Melanie Paz

“I was a bit shocked that he had access to the office and basically, I don’t think he has any business being in there. This is basically a bit of the dirty party politics that the parties used in elections. These are the people who are to go to Central Government and represent the people and if this the way that they have to win an election, then what chance do we stand of having good representation?”

Jorge Aldana, San Pedro Sun

“Do you condemn these actions?”

Melanie Paz

“I absolutely do, I mean it is unfair not only to myself running as an independent candidate but to all the candidates of other parties independents that are in this same election.”

Milo Paz says a formal police report was made to the San Pedro Police, to ensure that there was a record that the incident did occur. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

We contacted Guerrero for an interview but he told us via text message that he wasn’t on the island; neither did he respond to subsequent phone calls. News Five spoke via phone with Josephine Tamai, the Chief Elections Officer in Belize City, who said that the Elections and Boundaries Department takes such allegations seriously and has since launched an investigation into the matter. Tamai said that Marilee Squires has been moved temporarily to the Central Office so they can facilitate the investigation.

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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2 Responses for “Allegations of voter tampering in San Pedro”

  1. CEO says:

    He should not be the only one that is penalized. From the fact that he had access to the building and the only computer in the office this is grounds enough for dismissal of the person in charge of the office.

  2. carlos says:

    this nationalization of citizens should be a continous process but should stop at least 6 months before an election ( city, municipal or general electron.)
    The next government should set specific dates for general elections so that specific dates for giving citizenship should be set.
    This process should be done by the immigration department only and no politician should put his/her finger in the process. This is the bad thing taking place right now. The process should take place in the appropriate offices of the government and not in a private house of a politician’s house.

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