The Prime Minister is yet to announce the date for the general election. Members within his administration have alluded to Wednesday, November 4 being the confirmed date, but it is all unofficial until the PM says so. That aside, however, the planning continues and according to the Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai, there are some changes every voter must lookout for once they get to the polls. Tamai added that it is important for every voter to note that the new process has made it safe for persons to go out and vote; that is providing they wear their masks and sanitize.
Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer: “Persons will now go to the polling stations, they will be expected to allow themselves their hands to be sanitized as they enter the polling stations, social distancing the six feet social distancing will be strictly adhered to. We know it is the law that persons are required to use a face mask, again that will one of the things that will be strictly enforced. So persons going to the polling stations again I will repeat they must have their face mask, they must ensure that they keep their social distancing, upon entering the polling stations your hands will be fully sanitized we’re also asking persons not to take any unnecessary items with them that they will not need to use at the polling stations. When the persons enter the polling station we encourage persons to take their voters identification cards. The person will hold their identification card themselves and announce their names. If they don’t possess an identification card they will just announced their name and one of the reasons being we don’t want for the elections staff to have to hold anything that is unnecessary unless there is some query then that is the only reason when the identification card will be brought a little bit closer to the presiding officer. One the person announces their name they will need to take off their masks briefly for approximately ten seconds because we must identify the person, who ever is there that that is the person who has presented him or herself for voting. Once that has been done the person will then be required to have his or her finger re-sanitized before dipping their finger into the electoral ink. So once that has been done that person will be provided with a ballot paper and a pencil, a sanitized pencil. The practice has been in the past that we have the pencils located behind the booth already but because of the COVID-19 and we want to ensure proper sanitization taking place you will now be given a pencil to take with you along with the ballot paper. That person will go behind the polling booths, mark their ballot paper and place their ballot paper in the ballot box and place the pencil in a separate container that we’ll have which will be marked “Used pencils” those pencils will be re-sanitized at intervals but before they’re given to any other elector. Priority will be given to persons who are disabled, the elderly and pregnant women those persons will be allowed to go to the front of the line because we know that those persons are more at risk. I will tell you that in communication with the Ministry of Health we have been informed that the risk is very very minimal if any at all in terms of persons coming out to vote because as long as your properly sanitize and you follow the protocols then it is basically safe. Belize is not the only country who will be doing an election during COVID time and we have seen that it has worked before and as long as people follow the protocols it will be safe for persons to come out and vote.”