Thursday, March 9, 2017
"To have a re-registration it doesn't bother me, you could have it if I think I said that but I don't see the urgency for it. It has an energy cost, it has a mental cost and most importantly it has a financial cost to get people to go to register da those polling station."
~Michael Finnegan, February 1, 2017
The Barrow Administration has confirmed that it intends to conduct a re-registration exercise followed by re-divisioning but only AFTER the municipal elections due March 2018. While Dean Barrow and the UDP will never admit it, they were forced to backtrack from their intent to steal another election through refusing to clean up the voters list. It was only after the PUP met with and rallied other organizations including the Belize Chamber of Commerce and the Belize Council f Churches that Barrow acknowledged that his shady intent would not fly.
The PUP has maintained from the very start that the voters list is corrupted, outdated and full of ghost voters. The recent acknowledgement, at the Senate Special Select Committee hearings, by the disgraced visa-less former Director of Immigration that the wide-spread granting of nationality before the 2012 general election led to voter registration fraud, has created great unease in the PUP and among right thinking members of civil society. During the Penner and Castro and August nationality orgy in 2012, countless Guatemalans were granted Belizean nationality. So desperate were the UDP to win, they completely ignored our national security concerns and proceeded to grant nationality to Guatemalans in clear contravention of the Belize Constitution.
The argument being put forward by the UDP is that there is not enough time to complete the re-registration process before the next municipal elections. This of course is an outright lie. If it was the intent of the UDP to comply with the law, they had more than ample time. The real question is, if not now when? If the UDP had commenced the re-registration exercise in January 2016, by January 2018 (2 years) the majority of municipal voters could have been re-registered in time for the next municipal elections due in March 2018. If we buy Dean Barrow’s BS about conducting the re-registration after the next municipal elections, they would have about the same amount of time after the next municipal as they did since the last general elections: about two years. So if they say that they were unable to conduct the exercise between the last general elections and the upcoming municipal elections, how are we to believe that it can be done after when the time frame is pretty much the same: about 2 years?
In the last general elections, there were 196,587 registered voters; of which 112,219 (57.08%) were in urban areas whilst the remaining 84,368 (42.92%) were rural voters. The largest municipality by far is Belize City with 44,018 voters. To re-register all the voters in the largest division in Belize City, Lake Independence (a total of 6,305 voters), it would mean that the divisional office of the Elections and Boundaries Department would only need to process an average of 28 voters per day, if the re-registration process was to start on 1st
July 2017and conclude on 17th
of February 2018: a total of 230 days. Surely such an exercise can hardly be considered an overwhelming undertaking in modern times particularly when it represents a registration intensity akin to that which occurs during the transfer period (July and August) before an election.
The fact of the matter is that Dean Barrow and the UDP want to go to the next elections with the voters list padded with Guatemalans and with persons who do not reside in Belize. They also wish to call an early general election along with the municipal elections due next March. This is all gamesmanship for Dean Barrow and the UDP. To hear Michael Finnegan spew such filth about the cost of re-registration is absurd and outright foolish. Where was his concern for cost when his government squandered $375 million of the PetroCaribe money? Where was his concern for cost when his government paid out more than $70 million in a prolonged land compensation scam? Where was his concern about the people’s money when Dean Barrow paid his brother almost $30 million in “legal fees”?
Every democracy is built on the sanctity of the voters list and for Dean Barrow and the UDP to behave as though a twenty year old voters list is not a threat to our democracy is emblematic of their twisted desire to win by any means necessary. But perhaps the biggest threat to our beloved country is that Dean Barrow and the UDP wants to take us to the ICJ referendum with this same voters list that is littered with thousands of Guatemalans. The PUP has spoken. The Teachers have spoken. Now it’s time for the NTUCB, the BCCI and the rest of civil society to speak up. Barrow has given the Teachers the finger but if we all stand in solidarity he will yield. We all know that for Dean Barrow to do anything related to good governance, he must be compelled!