Prime Minister Dean Barrow says people who have been in self-isolation or have tested positive for coronavirus ahead of Belize’s November 11 general election will not be allowed to vote.
“It can’t bepermitted. If you are COVID positive, you are supposed to be in quarantineeither at a government facility or at your own home. There’s no way we can getaround that restriction, which is a legal one, a mandatory one,” Barrow said.
“And If wewere to try to change the law to make arrangements to accommodate COVIDpositive persons who wish to vote, not only would it be I think, an extremelydifficult logistical exercise, I suspect that the fears of those that are notpositive, but who already have reservations or perhaps in two minds of whetherthey will exercise their franchise, those fears would become even morepronounced,” he added.
Representation of the People’s Act
TheElections and Boundaries Department had initially indicated that all personswho show up at the respective polling stations will be allowed to cast theirballot.
The main opposition People’s United Party (PUP) says it will be taking a position on that decision.
Section Fiveof Chapter Nine of the Representation of the People’s Act lists thequalifications that allow persons to vote in the elections. These include thatthe person must be a Belizean, a Commonwealth citizen residing in Belize for 12months or more, must be 18-years and over. The Act also lists who is disqualifiedbut is silent about any infectious diseases.
Belize isthe latest Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to be holding a generalelection during the COVID-19 pandemic, following St. Kitts-Nevis, Suriname,Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. St. Vincent and the Grenadines will hold itsgeneral election on November 5.
Barrow, whois stepping down from active politics, told reporters that while it isextremely regrettable “that if you are COVID positive, in effect you are notable to exercise your franchise, we don’t see that it can be otherwise,” hesaid.