With less than two months to go for the referendum, the Elections and Boundaries Department is making preparations for the referendum. Earlier today, a meeting took place at the Inspiration Centre with the referendum monitors appointed by representatives in Belize’s National Assembly. Chief Elections Officer, Josephine Tamai told the media that the purpose of the meeting was to review the expected conduct and the role of the monitors.
Josephine Tamai Chief Elections Officer Elections and Boundaries: “We sent out a press release inviting persons who are members of the National Assembly to serve as Referendum monitors for referendum on April 10th 2019. We want to ensure that we have transparency and accountability in the process. You all will know that this referendum is not an election where you have candidates. The law speaks to appointment of agents of candidates when there is an election. In this case we want to ensure that we have persons that are there to monitor the entire process from the counting and also the polling.”
According to Tamai, the department is working at making the referendum a smooth and transparent process in all areas.
Josephine Tamai Chief Elections Officer Elections and Boundaries: “The monitors will be allowed like I mentioned in the polling stations. When they go into the polling station they will be there to observe that the box is empty prior to the opening of the polls, to look behind the booths to see that there is nothing behind those booths to give that voter any indication of how you want them to vote. You want them to see how voters are voting, not in terms of the yes or the no but they are coming in and voting quite smoothly that those who are eligible to vote are the persons who are voting on referendum day.”
Johnelle Mckenzie: “Talk to us about the layout of the polling station?”
Josephine Tamai Chief Elections Officer Elections and Boundaries: “Well it is similar to when it comes to a general election where you have the presiding officers, you have the poll clerks, you have the counting clerks, you have the referendum monitors because even though we mention the political parties, what we inform the political parties is that for this national issue and when it comes to referendum it is not that they are operating as a political party. They are a referendum monitor similar to all the others. These persons are allowed to be in the polling stations as well. We will be having international observers. Those persons will be able to go in those polling stations, they will be observing the process as well so to ensure that we have transparency and accountability throughout. We have from CARICOM, we have from Commonwealth that we know so far and there’s more others as well. I know that some indications were made that the US Embassy was interested, we have the Taiwanese Embassy and I am sure that we are going to have others as we go along.”
To date, there is a total of three hundred and forty-four polling stations in the thirty one constituencies. As it relates to the voters’ identification cards, the distribution began today and is being done in phases.///