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The burning of the Postponed April Tenth Referendum Ballots

Over one hundred and fifty thousand ballots that were earmarked to be used for the referendum that never was on Wednesday, April 10, were destroyed this afternoon at a location on the George Price Highway, Cayo District.  The destruction was due to the reference to the Referendum Act that was printed on each ballot.  Chief Elections Officer, Josephine Tamai, spoke to the media on the destruction of the ballots.

Josephine Tamai – Chief Elections Officer: “Actually what we are doing today is the destruction of the ballots that were printed firstly which was under the Referendum Act. We all know that a new Referendum date has been set, we know that a new law has been passed and therefore we need to destroy that ballots that were printed before and in order for us to ensure that we have some transparency we decided to do it publicly so that the public can see that the destruction is taking place even before we go into Referendum day.”

Jose Sanchez – Reporter: “Now how many ballots are actually being destroyed? What actual investment was put into these ballots, what was the cost?”

Josephine Tamai – Chief Elections Officer: Actually, it was a lot of investment because we did sample ballots, we also did the real ballots. We have approximately 173,000 ballots that we are destroying because they were the ones for electoral divisions and when it comes to the cost it is difficult to say a real cost at this time because we have to look into the manpower that went into it because when ballots are being printed they are always done under supervision with security at all times.”

Jose Sanchez – Reporter:So are we talking over $100,000?”

Josephine Tamai – Chief Elections Officer: “A rough estimate would be under $50,000 but honestly, our numbers will be shared with you all. You all will have an opportunity to be able to sign off as to exactly what is being destroyed. We have a sheet of paper for each of the divisions, we have the actual serial numbers and the number of books: some books are in 25’s, some in the ’50s and some in 100’s so we have the serial numbers here and I want for you all to as we open each box to check the numbers to see that these are the ballots and that these are the ballots that are being destroyed for us to sign off on them. We invited monitors as well, we have the Chief Magistrate, we have the police officers and we have you all as media. I believe it is very important in terms of transparency because sometimes when people are not able to view things forthemslevs you hear all different sort of things and people come up with their own ideas to exactly what is happening so in order for us to do it in this way it is for people to actually see that yes these ballots are actually being destroyed, these ballots will not be available on Referendum day. I know the Commonwealth Observer Mission came in yesterday and so they are here. I know that CARICOM is going to come in very shortly and the other observer groups, they are basically local groups and have been here since then. On May 8th when the observers are at the stations they will be persons who will be there at the different polling stations and counting stations to observe the entire process all up until the counting so they will be there to ensure that everything is going smoothly and to observe what is happening on Referendum day.”

 The destruction of the ballots was witnessed by the Chief Magistrate, Sharon Fraser as well as members of law-enforcement.