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Elections and Boundaries: “No special treatment for proxy votes in election”

Posted: Monday, October 26, 2020. 1:45 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Elections and Boundaries Department is dispelling rumours about the treatment of votes by proxy in the upcoming general elections.

Sources to BBN suggest that for the first time ever, such votes would be counted separately from ordinary votes in a separate location.

Additionally, concerns were raised that the unofficial deadline of October 30 to submit applications for voting by proxy was questioned by police formations countrywide, who want to know when officers working on November 11 would receive word about whether their applications are successful.

Proxy voting is governed by Rule 19 of the Representation of the People Election Rules as amended by S.I. No. 73 of 1998.

Before speaking to Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai, we contacted sources in both major political parties who said they were not aware of such a change and that proxies vote as per normal in the respective polling stations, with their votes counted the same. Further, no such change had been discussed with them.

And the CEO in a telephone interview this afternoon confirmed such.

Under the rules, persons working abroad in the Diplomatic and Consular Corps; Belize Defence Force soldiers; members of the Belize Police Department working on election day; other election day officers, and so on, can apply for a proxy vote within seven days of the writs being dropped for election. The names of proxy voters for each election are kept on a register to be consulted when the proxy voter arrives at the station.

CEO Josephine Tamai explained that the proxy voter must bring their designated form set out in the Fifth Schedule to the Representation of the People Act and follow the standard voting procedure. Ordinarily, the ballot paper granted to the proxy voter is no different from the standard one and in the counting of votes there is no differentiation between them.

The CEO said the Department is “encouraging” proxy applicants to submit their applications at least a week before Election Day so they have time to set up the Proxy Register; however, they can accept proxy applications up to the day before.

A proxy voter must be a registered elector, i.e. over 18 and a citizen of Belize, and can only be appointed to vote on behalf of one person. The proxy voter can still vote on their own behalf even if in a different polling area.

However, CEO Tamai says that if you are scheduled to work on Election Day in the same polling area as where you vote, you can still take time to vote for yourself. No person by law who appoints a proxy to vote on their behalf can still cast a vote on Election Day.

 

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