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Jan 24, 2006

Voting rolls swell as election approaches

Story PictureAccording to the Elections and Boundaries Department, when the cut-off date for new registration of voters passed on January tenth, a whopping two thousand, one hundred and seventy-seven people had been added to the electoral list. This afternoon Chief Elections Officer Stuart Leslie maintained that this is a record for Belize. Official sources indicate that Orange Walk had the largest number of new voters, posting three hundred new names to the master list. But Leslie says that with all those new people, the old practice of challenging the veracity of names and addresses is sure to follow.

Stuart Leslie, Chief Elections Officer
?With such an aggressive registration drive in the last ten days, one can expect that we are going to see challenges in the courts. Our registering officers are required to do their due diligence, go check with the head of household to see if the person says that they live where they say they live, try to find other documentation to prove that the person is where they are. But the challenges come usually from the two political parties, the two major parties. They scrutinise each other, who you brought in, who I brought in, and then they make a lot of their challenges based on that. So given the closeness, the large number of registrants and the closeness of the time, we are a little bit, we are kinda breathing a little sigh of relief right now because tomorrow?s the closing date for challenges and we have received no official challenges today. But believe me, by tomorrow we?ll have some I?m sure.?

And as the Elections and Boundaries Department prepares for court action, government employees are also getting ready for Nomination Day on February fourteenth. The independent pool of candidates has deepened with two–Fernando Cruz and Luis Ayala–running in San Ignacio, while Anthony Westby will be running in Punta Gorda, and only today Esteban Perrera has confirmed that he will be contesting the Belize City mayoral race for the National Alliance for Belizean Rights. Those men join the Vision Inspired by the People party, headed by Paul Morgan, running in Belmopan. With the schedule already set by Elections and Boundaries for the P.U.P. to come in the morning, the independents at lunch, and the U.D.P. candidates in the early afternoon, today the Elections and Boundaries Department had a message for party supporters.

Stuart Leslie
?Together with the police, we are asking the political parties to cooperate with us. We are only going to allow inside the compound, wherever there is a nomination in the country, the candidates, the two people who will be there witnesses, and we are asking secretary generals to invite five other people. So in all of these places of nomination, we are using government offices, in the instance of this place, we have Sales Tax, Income Tax, Immigration; these are all places that have to conduct their business. So we are going to try and limit the number of people who would be allowed inside the gate. We know that there will be parades and so on, and that?s a police matter. But on Nomination Day we are asking the public to cooperate with us. If you don?t have to come to the building in the morning to do business or in the early afternoon, then if you can delay it until after four o?clock you?d be doing us a great favour.?

Apparently the only wrinkle in the Nomination Day preparations thus far has been an argument over colours on ballot papers. That has been solved by the department by allowing parties to use colours such as golden yellow and what we understand to be a very specific green.

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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