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Belize Peace Movement warns against “chemically tainted” ballots

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Posted: Monday, May 6, 2019. 1:09 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Warning that Belizeans cannot take any chance with an administration he describes as “hell-bent” on obtaining a yes vote on May 8 in the ICJ referendum, interim national coordinator of the Belize PEACE Movement (BPM), Robert “Bobby” Lopez, is advising Belizeans to take their own indelible pens or pencils into the polling booth to cast their vote.

Lopez wrote to Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai on April 2, a few days before the aborted April 10 referendum, asking “assurance from the Elections and Boundaries Department (EBD) that it will be accepted in the upcoming referendum voting and ballot count for a voter to clearly indicate her choice by making her mark using her own indelible pencil or pen.”

 Replying for Tamai, deputy Francisco Zuniga denied the request under the Election Rules, 13 (2) (a) and (b) which puts on the returning officers appointed to oversee the election to provide the necessary materials for marking ballot papers. Under Rule 30, using their own materials would, Zuniga argues, cause the voter to be identified which would void their ballot. The Constitution furthermore provides all voting must be done by secret ballot.

 But the BPM disagrees, finding nothing in the laws quoted to suggest that the elector has to use the materials provided or which materials, and says there are other ways votes can be traced.

 Lopez contends that other Commonwealth countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom have allowed voters to use their own materials to cast a ballot, ie pen or pencil.

He proposes that voters use their own pen to mark the ballot, then trace over it with the EBD provided instrument to make a “good” vote.

Lopez charges that past referenda have been tainted by the use of chemically tainted ballots which see the mark in one box disappear after the vote and magically reappear in the other at counting.

Whether that is so or not, Lopez says the only way to guarantee a No vote is to perform this sleight-of-hand in the ballot box on Wednesday.

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