PRESS RELEASE: "DEFERRAL OF RE-REGISTRATION OF ELECTORS UNDERMINES OUR DEMOCRACY"
BELIZE NETWORK OF NGOs PRESS RELEASE August 14, 2017 For Immediate Release
DEFERRAL OF RE-REGISTRATION OF ELECTORS UNDERMINES OUR DEMOCRACY
The Belize Network of NGOs (BNN) hereby expresses its grave disappointment that the national re-registration exercise that was to have been initiated in July 2017 has been postponed to next year. Voting systems are an integral component in the equation of our political democracy. The right to vote (including who can vote) and a fair and free election process are fundamental rights guaranteed by the Belize Constitution.
Given that the last re-registration exercise was conducted two decades ago, the electors list is very likely compromised which means that the very integrity of our political democracy is severely undermined. Moreover, given the impending national referendum regarding taking the Guatemalan claim to the International Court of Justice, the urgency of compiling a legitimate voters list is stronger than ever. Within this context, the BNN calls for the Elections and Boundaries Commission to rescind their decision to postpone the re-registration exercise, so that this could be completed in time for the upcoming Municipal Elections.
Among the reasons given by the Elections and Boundaries Commission for the postponement is that “the money required for the national exercise (estimated at $20 million) was not provided for in the national 2017/2018 budget… [and] holding the re-registration exercise this July  would not have been practical, as the window period before the cut-off date for the upcoming municipal elections is January 10, 2018, which would leave a period of 6 months to complete the exercise” (Source: Amandala, 29 July 2017).
Given the importance of the legitimacy of the electoral list, these reasons are unacceptable. If it so desires, the Government of Belize may ask the National Assembly to approve Supplementary Budgets for matters of national significance. The need for a national re-registration exercise is unquestionable.
Also, Section 9(1) of the Representation of the People Act states that the carrying out of the re-registration exercise may be postponed “…if the date of the re-registration exercise falls within six months of the general elections becoming due or being called…” Municipal elections are scheduled for 2018, not General Elections. [END]
For more information, contact Pro Tem Chair, Froyla Tzalam at 615-8532, or Senator Osmany Salas at 602-2535; Belize13thSenator@gmail.com