Posted: Monday, September 28, 2020. 1:42 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The Belize PEACE Movement says the election expert appointed pursuant to interested party Lord Michael Ashcroft has completed and will submit his report to the Supreme Court “for an expeditious resumption” of its case before Acting Chief Justice Michelle Arana.
The Acting Chief Justice had ordered on June 27 that an expert be appointed to objectively say whether Belize’s 31 electoral divisions, as presently defined and constituted are sufficiently equal, to assess the impact of any malapportionment, and to identify and quantify discriminatory effects.
The selected expert is Sean P. Trende, a Senior Elections Analyst who possesses a Master of Applied Statistics degree from the University of Ohio. He is expecting to complete his Ph.D. in Political Science in 2021. He has written several books on the issue of elections. His professional experience includes previous expert testimony, international presentations and lecturing at the university level.
The BPM quotes Trende as proposing that his report “shall also identify international standards of democracy and express a view as to whether the electoral divisions as currently defined and constituted meet those standards and demonstrate the extent of any non-conformity or non-compliance with such standards…. shall further present suggestions for the drawing of electoral boundaries so that any malapportionment or non-conformity or non-compliance with international democratic standards are avoided or cured,” and “to set forth the advantages and disadvantages of each suggestion” and answer any questions for the court.
The BPM has asked for in its determination, among other things, an injunction that could potentially stop the holding of elections until boundaries are redistricted. The current disparity is such that the largest districts, such as Stann Creek West and Belmopan, carry up to 8 times as many as the smallest constituency by voter size, Fort George, at just over 1,600 voters as of June. The national total before new registrations and voter transfers in the summer was 163,974, and up to 13 thousand new voters were said to have been registered in July and August.
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