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Election Clerk Suspended on Ambergris Caye

The Ambergris Daily wonders what will happen to the incumbent town councillor

ELECTION CLERK SUSPENDED FOLLOWING INCIDENT IN SAN PEDRO

January 20, 2012

But the perusal of the binders is perhaps the least of the issues confronting the Election and Boundaries Department in this highly charges atmosphere heading into the Municipal Elections. The department suffered a major embarrassment this week, when an incumbent councilor of the San Pedro town council was busted behind the desk inside the Election and Boundaries Office on the island, apparently going through the voters list. Tamai says that the department under her watch is not taking the issue lightly. The assistant registering Officer Marilee Squires has been suspended from duties and a two-member team has been dispatched to San Pedro to investigate the circumstances surrounding the disturbing occurrence. Squires, according to reports reaching Love News, has admitted to her supervisors that she was wrong for having the unauthorized person in the office after hours. But the Chief Elections officer says she is confident and the Belizean public can be assured that in no way was the voters list compromised by the unauthorized access.

Josephine Tamai – Chief Elections Officer
“We out rightly condemned whatever has happened. There is no way that Mr. Guerrero or anybody other than the registration officer should have been in that office. Immediately upon hearing about it, we deployed two persons out there to conduct an investigation. Their investigation is still ongoing, but our preliminary report indicate that nothing has been tampered with in regards to the voters’ list because there is no way, the offices outside don’t have access to that information, all those are prepared here at the central office. The person who went out to verify actually verified that they checked the computer to ensure that nothing was deleted and they checked it along with the record card so we know for sure. The public is rest assured that in no way that information can be compromised. “

Patrick Jones – Reporter
But do you understand the public’s outrage not to mention the political fallout from this to see somebody who ought not to have been there seated at the desk going through those files.

Josephine Tamai – Chief Elections Officer
“I understand and even as the chief Elections Officer that is something that we don’t take very lightly so what we did I made a recommendation to the Public Services Commission through the Ministry of the Public Service requesting the immediate suspension of the officer and that has been approved so that officer has been on suspension pending further investigation since yesterday.”

Patrick Jones – Reporter
What is being put in place or what is there to ensure that something like this will not re-occur, probably not in San Pedro but elsewhere in the country?

Josephine Tamai – Chief Elections Officer
“Well what we have done, we conduct training for our officers. We have ensured that we send out correspondence reminding them, they are also guided by Representation of the People’s Act so we remind them of it because at the end of the day we can only train, encourage them to ensure that they do the right thing. At this Department we have no tolerance for officers who choose to do otherwise.”

Tamai says that any member of the general public who suspects that something is not right or have borne witness to an irregularity can lodge their complaints or make a report in writing to the Chief Elections Officer, as the department relies on the public to help in the administration of the election process.



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