Voters, get ready to re-register

By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor

If you want to have a say in the outcome of the next General Elections or whether or not Belize should settle its territorial differendum with Guatemala at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), then you will need to re-register. The Election and Boundaries Commission has set the dates for the process from July 2nd to the end of this year.

The $8 million project will endeavour to update the current voters’ list, which was last sanitized in 1997. It is going to be a daunting task for the public officers whose job it is to ensure that every application is valid, but Chief Elections Officer, Josephine Tamai explained to the media on Wednesday afternoon that with the proper equipment and measures in place, it is possible.

To get that done, the money will be invested in hiring more than 300 more persons to assist with the job, over-time payments, house-to-house investigations, and the equipment. Included in that work will be the verification of applicants’ documents by the Immigration Department as well.

Tamai explained that re-registration is for everyone over the age of 18, who is a Belizean citizen, or anyone from any Commonwealth country who has lived here for 12 months or longer. Residents who are away studying or on medical leave abroad will also need to return to their respective constituencies and re-register if they plan to vote in any upcoming election.

During the months of July to December, applicants can visit the Department’s offices to get their applications processed, but between the months of July and August specifically, registration centres, which will likely be school buildings, will be opened to help with the process.

The Chief Elections Officer informed that persons who are incapacitated by age or physical limitations can contact the registering officer in their districts and those officers will facilitate them with the process.
To register in a specific area, a person has to provide proof that he/she has been living at a specific address for not less than two months.

Persons who want to re-register need to provide a copy of their birth certificate, their social security card or a valid passport, or a photograph that is signed, stamped and certified by a Justice of the Peace, and naturalized Belizeans need to also take along their nationality certificates. Picture identification cards or a picture that is stamped, signed and certified by a Justice of the Peace (JP) will also be required for people whose nationality certificates don’t include photographs.

Married women who do not have any identification card in their married names will be required to provide their marriage certificate in order to be registered using their married names. Other people who have changed their names also need to provide their deed poll, which are only accepted along with a birth certificate.

The current voters’ list has a total of 204, 802 who can vote. Tamai projects that the exercise will leave the list with about the same number, but the names of persons who have died or moved away will no longer appear on the list, whereas people who have turned 18 since the last re-registration will now appear on it.

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