By Aaron Humes: A first meeting of the Redistricting Task Force has been held, with plans to produce at least a first draft of recommendations for the redistricting of electoral divisions by the middle of this year.
Chief Elections Officer and chair of the Task Force Josephine Tamai told reporters, “We do have a timeline, and I also want to state that we’re hoping that by the middle of this year, as the Task Force, we are able to produce at least a first draft report; so by July, August of this year, to produce a first draft report to submit to the Elections and Boundaries Commission.”
These next few months will be spent looking, Tamai said, “at all of the statistics and all of the data and make recommendations as to how we will proceed with actually redefining the electoral divisions.”
The Commission will review the initial recommendations and reply to the Task Force to proceed with expected completion by 2023.
Tamai said in response to suggestions that the EBC might “sit” on the report as it has “procrastinated” for many years that she is willing to confirm that the report has been presented and that their operation is not secret: “At the end of the day, this entire exercise will affect every single elector, and we need to ensure that whatever we do, it is not anything that is being done in a secret manner.”
She reiterated that they have a responsibility to get the information out to the public and to the press and she would not stand for any foot-dragging, so she is only too happy to make the public announcement, if not necessarily the report itself.
She also refuted any suggestions that the EBC is moving now due to the ongoing court case with the Belize PEACE Movement, stating that there has been planning on going for months and with funding now behind them, they are prepared to move “full steam ahead.”
The last major redistricting of boundaries took place in 2005 with the additions of Cayo Northeast and Belmopan being separated from Cayo South; the number of constituencies has quintupled from six in 1945 to 31 more than sixty years later but remained the same ever since.