By Alexis R. Milan
United Democratic Party (UDP) Chairman Alberto August rejected the allegation that he and the Chief Election Officer coerced an Election &Boundaries registrar to sign 100’s of blank proxy documents.
People’s United Party (PUP) Cayo Central Campaign Manager Horace Grant, this week made the allegation against August and Chief Election Officer Josephine Tamai.
Grant made a formal complaint to Tamai in a letter dated October 28th.
August has threatened to sue Grant for ‘defamation of character’ for the accusation.
He dismissed the charge on Thursday evening, as nothing more than “silly season” political tactics. He confirmed that he did visit the Cayo Central Election & Boundaries office on the 27th but only took one proxy document with all relevant information to be verified by the registrar.
According to August, he was assisting a police officer who will be working on election day and had requested to vote by proxy. He said the officer filled out the proxy form and asked him to assign someone from the constituency to vote on his behalf, and because no political candidate or agent can do so, he found someone who could.
August said he also visited the Commissioner of Police to sign and stamp the document on the 10th. The ComPol was not in office at the time so he left the document and picked it up at a later date, he said.
According to August, he visited the Election & Boundaries office in Santa Elena on Tuesday to deposit the form along with the designated voter on the proxy.
He said he presented the form to the Registrar who observed that the ComPol did not put the date along with his signature.
August said he then inserted the date on the document but the registrar said she could not accept the form. He contested the decision on the grounds that the applicant, the ComPol and the designated voter had all signed the form and the date was a simple omission.
He confirmed he then made a call to Tamai but she was unavailable so he spoke with the person who handles the proxy applications. He was assured the document would be accepted and the registrar would receive instruction to accept the form but when she still refused he called Tamai directly.
Tamai, who was on August’s phone speaker at the time, then instructed the registrar to accept the form, which she did, he said.
The Reporter made numerous attempts to contact Tamai for her version of events but was unable to get a response.
According to Grant, the PUP was reliably informed that August entered the office demanding the Cayo Central registrar sign 100’s of blank proxy forms and had Tamai force the registrar to do so.
Grant, by way of the letter, accused Tamai and August of a blatant act of corruption saying that the Elections and Boundaries Department is allowing one of the main political parties to control the voting of the general election. Grant added the act was illegal and “against all democracy.”
According to Grant, the PUP will ensure that the weight of the law is brought against Tamai for allowing the UDP to ‘rig’ the elections.
Grant also reminded Tamai that it is the right of Belizean citizens who cannot physically appear to vote to do so by proxy, but each proxy document must be properly filled out to identify the person requesting proxy-vote.