Editorial

Editorial

Final results for the Town Council election on San Pedro show that there is a gap of 38 votes between the candidate for Mayor, Daniel Guerrero of the UDP and his PUP rival, Abner Perez. The gap between other rival candidates was wider – a margin of 325 votes for the UDP’s top-scoring councillor more than the 2,629 votes for the best performing PUP candidate.

But the gap between the lowest-scoring candidate for the UDP (2,789) and the highest scoring candidate for the PUP was 160 votes. If an election petition is pursued, it could possibly affect the standings of the two lowest polling UDP candidates which include the Mayor designate, Danny Guerrero, who scored the lowest (2,667) of all the UDPs.
Successful election petitions are rare indeed. There has never been a successful election petition in the history of Belizean politics. They can and do occur however, but the People’s United Party would need some incontrovertible evidence of voter fraud to make its case succeed, and it would have to show that this fraud affected the election outcome in a substantial way.

It should be pointed out that the Elections and Boundaries Commission acknowledges no such voter fraud. The official report says that 5,700 ballot papers were issued. Of these 16 ballots were spoilt, leaving 3,684 valid ballots. If indeed some fake ballot papers were smuggled in to bolster the votes of the incumbents, this is a matter which needs to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

The voting procedure in Belize has been carefully programmed. Each voter receives a ballot paper which is signed at the back with the initials of the Returning Officer. After the ballot has been marked, the voter is required to show this signature mark on the back of the ballot paper to the Returning Officer before depositing his or her vote into the voters’ box. After the polling is complete the boxes are stored in a safe place until it is time to count the ballots.

In the best of systems voter fraud is still possible. But it is safe to say that for fake ballot papers to enter the system, this can only be achieved with the knowledge and consent of the Returning Officer.

Still, every claim of voter fraud needs to be examined because voter fraud strikes at the very root of our democracy by frustrating the will of the voters.

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