Headline — 19 April 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
Chief Elections Officer accused of political mischief

The voter causing the trouble, it is alleged, “is a well-known member of the United Democratic Party” who could not be registered because he reportedly did not have all the required documents.

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Apr. 17, 2019– A senior staff member of the Elections and Boundaries Department hired an attorney to protect her rights after she allegedly was transferred for refusing to carry out instructions from the Chief Elections Officer, Josephine Tamai.

The matter made it into the public domain during Monday’s Senate meeting when the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) senator, Hon. Eamon Courtenay, revealed the existence of a letter written by former United Democratic Party (UDP) mayor of Belize City, attorney Darrell Bradley, on behalf of his client, senior registering officer Jerrylyn Bruce.

During his presentation, Courtenay referenced the letter that Bradley addressed to the Chief Elections Officer. Courtenay told the Senate, “Mr. Bradley is addressing her [Tamai] on the question of a letter that she wrote on March 26, 2019, under the caption ‘Failure to carry out directives omitting applicants from the Register of Electors and monthly supplemental list.’”

Courtenay then read from the letter Darrell Bradley wrote to Tamai: “Trevor Arthur Charles Bradley came into the Elections and Boundaries Department on July 26th, 2018 to apply to be registered as an elector in the Caribbean Shores constituency. Mr. Bradley presented his social security card but did not present any other form of identification as proof of Belizean citizenship. As you are aware, proof of Belizean citizenship is required to process and complete an application for registration. Mr. Bradley only had his social security card and so he could not register. Mr. Bradley’s name was included in a list sent to Vital Statistics Unit for verification of Belizean citizenship and Vital Statistics Unit did not confirm his citizenship. Again, in accordance with documented policies of the Elections & Boundaries Department, Mr. Bradley was sent a notice of disallowance dated January 29th, 2019, by registered mail.

“What was wrong was that because Mr. Bradley is a well-known member of the United Democratic Party, his complaint to you seemed to have been given special significance. Ms. Bruce informed me that you then directed her to include his name on the list of electors for that month so as to enable him to vote in the scheduled April 10th referendum.”

“Mr. President,” Courtenay said, “We express our concern … a Registering Officer is saying she is directed by the Chief Elections Officer to register someone so that the person can vote in the elections.”

Courtenay said that Bradley, in his letter to Tamai, said, “Ms. Bruce is a dedicated and senior Registering Officer with the Elections and Boundaries Department, where she has worked for a period exceeding fifteen years. She has truthfully slaved in her post, working tremendous hours of overtime as the only full time member of the department assigned to handle four constituencies in Belize City and tasked with the responsibility to ensure that the voters’ list for these four constituencies is accurate and ready for the recently aborted referendum on the ICJ question. Ms. Bruce unequivocally denies and refutes all of the accusations raised in your letter, and she wishes to set the facts straight, as set out in this letter, to show that you have been capricious and partisan, and that you have singled her out for disciplinary action wrongfully and simply because Ms. Bruce insists on following proper procedures.”

Courtenay said Bradley ended his three-page missive to the Chief Elections Officer, saying, “Based on the forgoing, it is Ms. Bruce’s position that your allegations are entirely baseless and motivated by partisan political objectives. Ms. Bruce relies on her integrity and her years of public service, and she demands that your victimization cease immediately, including that she be re-assigned to her post in the field, so that she is able to do her job. She informed me that you assigned a junior officer to replace her, and the intent of this can only be to ensure that the Elections and Boundaries Department Office can be manipulated for political purposes.”

Chief Elections Officer Tamai, however, has denied the allegations against her and told News5 last night, “That person applied to be registered from 26 July, 2018. It is not a new application. As the Chief Elections Officer, I have a responsibility to ensure that persons who are qualified to be registered electors are not disenfranchised in any way.

“If I have an officer who is disenfranchising persons and not accepting applications from those persons, there is where, yes, we will have an issue because my duty is to ensure that persons are not disenfranchised if they are qualified persons.

“In this specific case, this person was qualified. He qualified on July 26 under re-registration so to say that this person only took in a Social Security card, the public knows that during the registration exercise, persons were allowed to take in only a Social Security card and the information sent to us to verify. To say that something miraculously happened and we were able to verify only around March 15 is totally false. Like I am saying, these will come to light sometime in the future.”

The matter between Bruce and Tamai is now before the Public Services Commission.

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