April 2, 2019
Ms. Josephine Tamai
Chief Elections Officer
Elections and Boundaries Department
Dear Chief Elections Officer:
The PEACE MOVEMENT is hereby seeking assurance from the Elections and Boundaries Department that it will be accepted in the upcoming referendum voting and ballot count for a voter to clearly indicate her choice by making her mark using her own indelible pencil or pen.
We seek your most urgent response to this request.
National Coordinator (BPM)
Mrs. Josephine Tamai Chief Elections Officer, Elections and Boundaries Department, Belize
Dear Chief Elections Officer:
Our letter of April 2, 2019 sought assurance from your office that the right of voters to mark their ballot with their own pencils or pens would be upheld in the upcoming referendum. In our context and for clarity, the intended mark to be placed on ballots would be of the color black, placed within the designated space, with an accepted shape and clearly indicating the voter’s choice. Our intent in this pursuit is to counter possible election fraud in this upcoming referendum (without prejudice).
Having consulted with our legal team, we respectfully disagree with the stated position in your letter (EDB/ELE /4/07/2019 (20) that ballots marked using voter’s own pencils or pens “would render their ballot void”. It begs the question: For the purpose of marking a ballot, what is the significant difference between a pencil or pen supplied by the Elections and Boundaries Department, versus an elector’s own pencil or pen? We therefore disagree with your position because in our view, the laws you expressly rely on (ROP Election Rules, 13 (2) (a) and (b), 30, and the Belize Constitution) do not support your position for the following reasons:
1. The said laws do not mandate or even implicitly require that the elector uses the “materials provided” to mark his ballot.
2. The use of a specific writing utensil (pen or pencil), to mark a ballot paper is not specified in the legislation.
3. The use of a pencil or pen does not guarantee the secrecy of a voter’s ballot because there are so many waysfor a voter to have his vote identifiable if he so chooses. For example, a voter may utilize a unique font face, size, weight and style to make his vote identifiable.
4. The numbering placed on the ballots already makes them traceable and thus defeating the secrecy and the sanctity of the ballots.
5. The overwhelming right guaranteed by the Belize Constitution is for citizens to participate in actual and perceived free and fair elections. In the process, the voter is only required to clearly indicate his choice by placing his mark within the designated space on the ballot paper. Due to time limitations in this matter, we ask that you respond to this letter by end of business on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019. If we do not get a response from you by said date and time, or you maintain your stated position in your response, we intend to take legal action in order to assure our voting right.
Robert A. Lopez, Interim Chairman
cc: BPM Legal Team