General — 30 March 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
PUP challenge validity of the San Pedro Town Board election in Supreme Court petition

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Mar. 27, 2018– The March 7, 2018 municipal elections have come and gone and those elected in the municipalities across the country are busy at work trying to fulfil the pledges they made to the voters who elected them.

In San Pedro, however, the Town Board that was sworn in on March 13 is being challenged in a Supreme Court election petition filed by the Opposition People’s United Party. The PUP filed their election petition on Thursday, March 22.

On election night, when the results were being announced, the PUP slate in San Pedro was announced as the winner. Something happened, however, when a recount of the ballots was ordered and the incumbent United Democratic Party emerged as the winner and were subsequently sworn in office.

The UDP victory in San Pedro was soon under challenge by the PUP, which dispatched its attorneys to the island, as another round of counting had gotten underway the following day, Thursday, March 8.

When the UDP team emerged as the winner in San Pedro, the PUP immediately began its legal process to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

In the election petition the PUP filed, their mayoral candidate, Abner Andre Perez, and his six councilor candidates, were named as the petitioners, while the UDP San Pedro mayor, Daniel “Danny” Guerrero, and his six councilors were named as the respondents. In addition, the election petition named Catherine Cumberbatch, the returning officer, as an 8th respondent, and the Attorney General of Belize as an interested party.

The PUP petition makes the claim that there were 675 registered voters in 11 ballot books, but after the election, the officials could only account for 400. The petition is claiming that the missing 275 are sufficient to affect the outcome of the election.

The petition also stated that based on the final result, some 550 voters were present at polling area 37 around 6:00 p.m. That, among other discrepancies, says the PUP petition, shows that the election was not conducted in accordance with the rules laid out in the Town Council (registration and electors and elections) Regulations. The PUP is asking the court to declare that Mayor Guerrero and his council were not duly elected, that the election be declared void, that the election of Guerrero and his council be considered undue, and any other declaration that may be just.

The court has not yet set a date for hearing the petition. The petition was filed by the law firm of Courtenay Coye, LLP.

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