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OAS Election Statement 2012

OAS Election Statement 2012

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Published by Myrtle Palacio
The government of Belize invited the OAS to mount a team of obervers to its 2012 elections. This is the report of the OAS Team. It is damning and a black eye to the quality of Belize's democracy. The observers saw many irregualtities first hand, including the doling of monies to voters after they had voted...
The government of Belize invited the OAS to mount a team of obervers to its 2012 elections. This is the report of the OAS Team. It is damning and a black eye to the quality of Belize's democracy. The observers saw many irregualtities first hand, including the doling of monies to voters after they had voted...

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Published by: Myrtle Palacio on Mar 10, 2012
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04/27/2014

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As part of its first ever ElectoralStates (OAS) fielded a team of 22and Municipal Elections. On Elec85% ofthe nation’s polling areas.The following preliminary obserwell as meetings with electoral acivil society organizations and thObservations:First of all, the mission wishes tofranchise during this electoral pThe ability of Belizean political pbe commendedasan exemplaryThe mission also applauds theofficials that administeredtwo spolling day.
Pre-electoral period 
The OAS mission observed the sCommission and the Election anand inclusiveprocess. The missiowith timely information throughthe election.The OAS mission was pleased tohigh levels of electoral administr
 
Nonetheless, the mission notedboth electoral processes. Onlythra mere 4%.During the pre-electoral periodstemming from the extension of t of newly naturalized citizens.
Tlimited differentiation betwee
issue of campaign finance and ot 
Electoral Observation Missional and Municipal Elections in BelizeMarch 7, 2012Preliminary Statement 
bservation Mission (EOM) to Belize, the Organizmembers from 13 countries to observe the Marcion Day,observers were present in all sixdistrations are based on thedirect observations of thorities, government officials, political parties, rmedia.congratulate thepeople of Belize for the peacefuocess, in what was a historically competitive aarties to incorporate all of the nation’s diverseractice for the region.dedication and professionalism of the more t multaneous elections and ensured a smooth prignificant preparations made by the ElectionsBoundaries Department. On the whole,this pn wouldparticularlylike to emphasize efforts t its website, which was periodically updated inbserve the strong presence of women in the poliat 
 
ion, as senators and as secretaries general of i
 
th concern the extremely low numbers of femaleeout of the 74candidates for the general electi, the missionheard concerns with regards t heregistrationperiodand allegedirregularities i
e campaign period wasalsocharacterized bthe state and the governing party in terms
er concernssurrounding the campaignprocesstion of Americanh 7, 2012 Generalicts, visitingover the OAS team, asepresentatives of  l exercise of theird close election.opulation should an 3,000 pollingocess throughout  an
 
d Boundariesroduced a cleanprovide votersthe days before tical process: at olitical parties.e candidacies inn were women, the voters list,n the registration 
a perception of f resources.
Theill be addressed
 
in further detail in the mission’s verbal report to the OAS Permanent Council.
Election day procedures
On Election Day, observers reported that 100% of observed polls opened on time at 7:00 am, that all were equipped with thenecessary electoral materials and that the vast majority of pollingstations were suitable forthepurpose. Observers noted that polling officials were knowledgeableand well trained and worked diligently to orient voters and ensure an efficient voting process.The Mission would like to emphasize that women representedmore than halfof returningofficers, polling clerks, counting clerks and party agents.The OAS missionobservedthat political parties were actively engaged with the electorate,orientingvoters and educating them about voting procedures. Agents from the two major partiesmaintained a presence at all of the polling stations observed by the mission.
Nonetheless,theactive role played by partyactivists, who congregated insignificantnumbers outside of manyvoting centers, produced aless than conducive environment for the voting process.The electoral propaganda observed in the vicinity of polling stations and the prevalence of t-shirts bearing candidate names and symbols could be construed as electioneering. At 
 
one polling station, an OAS observerwitnessed a party activistdistributing moneyimmediately outsideof the polling center to a group of people after they had voted.
Tabulation and processing of results
After the close of the polls,ballot boxes were transported to centralized counting offices, whereresults were tabulated and then relayed to the Elections and Boundaries Department.Theincorporation of new procedures to have large polling areas serve ascounting stations and tosimultaneouslycount multiple ballot boxes led to a more efficient counting process and preventedexcessive delays. However,the counting process still wentlateinto the night. Official results hadnot yet been disseminated by midnight on election day.Recommendations:Based on the information gathered by the OAS Electoral Observation Mission during its time inBelize, the mission would like to offer the following recommendations to further strengthen theBelizean electoral process:1)
The promotion of female participation throughout the electoral process
The OAS electoral observation mission recommends that effortsbemade by both politicalparties and the government to promote the participation of women inelectoral competition.In particular, the mission recommends the development of legal mechanisms to ensurewomenare incorporated on the ballot andthe promotion of training programs for femalepolitical leaders.In this light, the fact that awomanwas elected to parliament represents apositive step.2)
The Enactment of Campaign Finance Regulations
The Mission notes that political financing is unregulated in Belize. The current framework places no limits on campaign spending anddoes not require disclosure of campaigncontributions or expenditures.In order to allow voters to make a more informed decisionand to ensure more equity in electoral competition, the OAS recommends the development of campaign finance legislation that addresses these gaps.

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