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Election & Boundaries denies BUFERHD’s allegation

As we reported, BUFERHD claims that your vote is not secret.  Last month it conducted a simulation of the voting process to prove their point.  The President of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU), Elena Smith was invited to witness the process.

 

Elena Smith – President of BNTU

“We were invited to witness what was happening and it was of interest to me personally and to us as a union because if others have been hearing that your ballot isn’t secret and so I wanted to see for myself, you could call my doubtful Thomas, and so at the end of it I was surprised to hear that Mr. Aikman was able to share with us how each person voted, he told us exactly who spoilt their ballots how the ballots were spoilt and how each person voted on each of the questions. It was a bit alarming to me to find that out but for me it poses a question of secrecy, and how it is that as Belizeans people would react knowing that it is possible that they can tell who voted and how you vote and so I think it’s a matter of national concern that we should address. How is it that we keep the vote secret but yet be able to account for every ballot that goes out because that might be the issue, if we remove the numbers from there how do we account for the number of ballots that are given out- which for me doesn’t seem to be so difficult but there has to be a way to look at both issues, how do we address the matter of secrecy and how do we address the matter of accountability as it relates to the ballots.”

 

Today, the Elections and Boundaries issued a release in which it denied the claim that your vote is not secret. The release said [QUOTE] “Election Officials have a responsibility to ensure that all ballot papers counted in an election are only those legitimate ballot papers issued by the Presiding Officer. The public is advised that the law DOES NOT require any Presiding Officer or any election official to inform anyone of the ballot book series or the ballot paper number he/she issues at any given point during the election process.” End of quote. It noted that each polling station is equipped with a private area, where the voter enters after being issued with a ballot paper to cast his or her vote.  It also pointed out that after casting his or her vote, the voter is asked to fold the ballot paper in order to conceal the vote after which the ballot paper is placed in the ballot box. The release continues by assuring the public that public officers selected to conduct election duties undergo training.  Election & Boundaries maintains the issuing of random ballots and pointed out that there is a section of the law that safeguards the secrecy of your vote.   Section 39 of the Representation of the People’s Act makes provision for offences for any person who invades the secrecy of your vote. As a result of contravening the secrecy, one can be fined up to one thousand dollars, in default, that person can face imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.