Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2019. 12:32 pm CST.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
Charles Leslie Jr. is the Chairman of the Belize Unity Alliance and the former independent Chairman of Placencia Village (2010 – 2013). He holds an Associates degree in business, accounting and economics and has over 20 years business experience.
By Charles Leslie Jr: A person opens the election management body’s website, registers to vote, and then votes by inserting his/her ID in the computer’s card reader.
That is how Estonians did it in 2007. E-voted. Easily from the comfort of their homes. Making them the first country in history to accomplish such a feat.
But, how did they do this?
Policy, baby. Policy.
Since the mid-1990s, the country has aggressively pursued a national ICT education strategy.
“ICT refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications. It is similar to Information Technology (IT), but focuses primarily on communication technologies. This includes the Internet, wireless networks, cell phones, and other communication mediums.”
This allowed Estonia to be rated by some as the most advanced in Europe in terms of e-government.
I know. Belize has an e-government program. Mostly to collect money from its citizens.
I applied twice for my birth certificate and got my father’s. This is the Vital Statistics Unit. No, it does not have e-government capabilities…it’s 2019.
And this is the Unit for the Government of Belize that holds your…existence…or not. As Belizean born educator, Joseph Alexander Bennett found out.
My apologies my brother. We should be better. Much better. We should all demand better. Much better.
Successful policies requires:
The 4 Elements of a nation’s success. Of course, made significantly more powerful with the 5th Element…
Belize needs to transform envy and hate into support. Push each other up and over. This gives incentives to those who make it to the top to throw down a rope, a ladder.
Is this why Belizeans in the Diaspora are so reluctant to come home, to participate…
…because our current system does not nurture that mentality? instead of pushing you up and over, you get pushed into the mud and stepped on.
Enough philosophy. Back to ICT.
Since September of 2018 Zimbabwe’s President has been in serious talks with Estonia. Seeking possible assistance in setting up an ICT option for mulled Diaspora participation in elections back home: the e-vote for their next general elections in 2023.
One of the main reason President Emmerson Mnangagwa is considering this? Zimbabwe has a huge Diaspora and one of its most recurrent demands has been the right to vote.
“According to some figures there may very well be over 300,000 Belizeans in the Diaspora spread across America, UK, El Salvador and Mexico, consecutively holding the bulk.”
But, ICT isn’t only about voting.
It’s also about the economy, stupid, as James Carville (a Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist) would say.
For voters at home, e-voting could in the long run reduce the high cost of elections in Belize.
Imagine, Estonia knew the importance of this technology, that The Baltic Tiger has itself allowed e-voting over 10 years ago.
This is after having already given the world file sharing giant Kazaa! online communications systems behemoth Skype, and finance technology mammoth TransferWise.
ICT contributes about seven percent (7%) of their GDP, and its researchers and computer scientists are at the forefront of fields like deep learning, quantum cryptography, business process analysis and bioinformatics.
QUICK FACTS: Estonia Government Debt is 9% of GDP (2018) V Belize Government Debt is 95%+ of GDP (2016)
Especially when a country aggressively pursue education strategy in a particular field.
“What is Belize’s education strategy focused on?”
More often than not governments have blind spots (lots).
And more often than not, if there is not a system in place that allows citizens to effectively and efficiently articulate their pain points, their needs, their wants…
…those blind spots remain unnoticed/unaddressed, and progress in a nation is…more often than not…haphazard and ineffective.
Here are some benefits Estonians enjoy from e-voting:
In 2017 about 31% of Estonians voted online during a municipal election.
In 2019 we are still arguing whether Belizeans in the Diaspora should even have the right to vote. Yet, at the same time allowing immigrants from all over Central America that privilege.
Imagine, the positive impact on Belize’s economy by Belizeans in the Diaspora, if they were treated like…well…Belizeans.
The www.diasporaofbelize.org website states “Do you want to be a part of Belize’s Development, share your knowledge and be involved? Tell us about yourself and your interest so that together we can help build Belize!”
Maybe it is time for Belizeans in the Diaspora and Belizeans at home, to increase our voices in the demand for a system that will allow ALL Belizeans, no matter where they are, the right to vote.
Don’t you think?
E-voting would change the direction of Belize so rapidly, and be so powerful, that it will positively impact the entire world, and especially Belizeans…worldwide.
Think about it. Thanks for reading.
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