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Disenfranchised & Outraged

Disenfranchised & Outraged
March 22
09:41 2019

There are reports that a number of people from Burrell Boom Village in the Belize District (reportedly more than 100) have been disallowed from the voters’ list without being given any specific reason other than the general one given to all who have been rejected – that they “have not met the qualification of being a citizen of Belize.”

Jennifer Baptist in Burrell Boom in Belize Rural North received a letter dated January 19, 2019 informing her that her application to register was disallowed on the basis that she did not meet the qualifications as a citizen of Belize. She told the Reporter today that she and other residents of the village went to register last November when an Elections employee went to the village to receive applications. She said that she took along her Social Security identification card and was not told at that point that she would need any other form of identification. It wasn’t until after she received the letter and decided to call in to a talk show program that she said someone from the Elections office notified them that they needed to take in another form of ID such as a birth paper or a passport in order to be screened again.

Baptist, now 57, told us that she has been voting since she was 18 without any problems. She expressed dissatisfaction and disgust at her situation because she said she cannot even vote for Belize in a Referendum which she sees as more important than electing a politician into office. Baptist said that she is a born Belizean and has lived all her life in Boom.

Baptist also told us that a total of three persons who live in her yard were rejected and she feels that, in her particular case, this was not her fault. She blames the situation on the system in place. She said that it was not even a matter of her using a different name or getting married and not registering her married name, as is the frequent case with many female voters. In fact, Ms. Baptist told us that she has never been married and that all of her identification records have her registered with her mother’s last name.

Selvyn Segura from the same village was also disallowed and said he is not sure of the reason why he was disallowed but that he has a son who bears the same name as he does. He did say that, like Ms. Baptist, he will return to the office and check about his status, which is what the Elections and Boundaries Department encourages. But they have expressed disappointment which they say reflect those of the others in the village because they will not be able to vote in the April 10th ICJ Referendum.

We have tried to reach the Chief Elections Officer for some type of response or clarification to these most recent revelations, but she has been out of the office and in meetings all day, we were told. An employee from the Elections and Boundaries Department did tell us, however, that only the person or persons who screened the applicants would know the specific reasons their applications were rejected. We will follow up on this story for our next edition.

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