BELIZE CITY, Mon. Sept. 17, 2018– On Friday, the Elections and Boundaries Department held a press conference at which they presented a breakdown of the data collected during the re-registration process. As of August 31, about 59.25%, or 121,496, of the voters who were previously registered, had participated in the re-registration exercise and were on the new voters list, even though the Elections and Boundaries Department had anticipated that at least 70% of those voters would have re-registered at that point. As of September 8, 122,447 Belizeans had re-registered. (The latest update from the department has indicated that between September 9 and 15, an additional 15,943 applications were received — increasing the total number of persons who have re-registered from 122,447 to 123,390).
The re-registration process is still ongoing, but eligible voters now have to go to the Elections and Boundaries Department to submit their application. The deadline for this, however, is September 30, and after that, regular registration will resume.
According to Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer, the purpose of the re-registration exercise was to clean up the voters list and remove persons who are deceased or are ineligible to vote. Tamai said, that the Ministry of Health shared their statistics regarding the persons who died on a monthly basis in order to assist with the list cleanup and to let the Elections and Boundaries Department pinpoint whether there are persons who had re-registered who have recently died.
Tamai also said, as previously mentioned, that only 59.25% of those persons on the previous voters list had registered. She said that in the second week of July they received the most applications, but since then, the number of persons re-registering has fluctuated from week to week. During the most recent week of the exercise at that point, there were 11,907 people who re-registered, an increase from the 8,575 persons who re-registered the week before. The first week of the exercise had seen 16,670 applications.
Tamai further broke the information down by saying that out of the 122,447 persons who had already re-registered, 65,472, or 53.89%, were persons from the rural areas who took advantage of the re-registration centers that were set up all over the country. 56,024, or 46.11%, of those re-registered were from urban areas.
Additionally, in 30 of the 31 electoral divisions, more women registered to become voters than men. Only in Belize Rural South did more men reregister than women. However, in some divisions, such as Pickstock, the difference between the number of men and women registering was miniscule.
In terms of ages, the highest percentage of those re-registering were between the ages of 25 and 34. Also, 86.89% or 105,568 of applications received were from persons who were born in Belize. Hence, about 13.11% were from persons who were born in another country and have become nationalized. 7,606, or 6.26%, of those persons were born in Guatemala, with the next largest number of foreign-born citizens coming from El Salvador.
The Elections and Boundaries Department is hoping that those who are eligible to re-register and have not done so will take advantage of the opportunity, especially so that they will be able to participate in the April 10 referendum to decide if Belize should take Guatemala’s territorial claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).