Posted: Wednesday, October 21, 2020. 7:00 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Every vote counts – except, for this election, those patients with COVID-19, now numbering more than a thousand actively.
The decision by outgoing Prime Minister Dean Barrow with the approval of Cabinet has raised more than a few eyebrows because of how difficult it would be to police – Minister of National Security Michael Peyrefitte, to our knowledge, never got the list of patients active with COVID-19 and in quarantine from Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero which he demanded by the now-repealed Statutory Instrument Number 134 of 2020. Moreover, no one’s franchise, under the Representation of the People Act, should be denied unless that person is under the age of 18; imprisoned for more than a year or under sentence of death, or living outside Belize unless a civil servant, student or seeking medical treatment, and so on.
Opposition Leader John Briceño believes he has hit on a way to get all Belizeans to cast their vote, COVID-19 aside:
“If the prime minister, if the UDP wants these people to vote, all we need to do for instance in Orange Walk District, let them go to the hospital to vote and in the hospital, they know who are the COVID patients, so they would take out the records from the binder and have it there at the hospital and you have 4 boxes, one for Orange Walk Central, one for Orange Walk East, one for Orange Walk North and one for Orange Walk South. The UDP can have one person, the PUP has one person staying there, well protected so that these people can go to the hospital and take their time and vote safely.”
Briceño says he will call the Prime Minister personally to float this “vote at the hospital” proposal as well as another proposal to make Belizeans who are across the land borders enter the country to vote – but be subjected to a rapid test at the border.
Still, speaking to Channel 5 News, he accused the government of “trying to suppress the vote” by tricking those who have gotten better into believing they can still spread the virus by going out to vote – likely, he believes, for his party.
“The underlying message that they are trying is you know don’t waste your time because are out there because you can get sick because they know that the U.D.P. does not want to go and vote. So any person that they can discourage from going to vote that would potentially vote for the P.U.P. is a plus for them. So it is not so much about the COVID-19 patients. It’s really about discouraging Belizeans from going on to vote. That is why I am telling the people when we were campaigning, you need to come out to vote, we are going to be careful.”
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