Voter registration push begins

Election officials estimate there could be as many as 18,000 people on the list of voters in Cayman if they all registered.

They hope to find out, in a voter registration drive that starts on Monday, 19 June, and continues through August.

Registering officers will pay special attention to Caymanians who have turned 18 since the last election.

People may register to vote any time, Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez noted. But after a general election, registration tends to slow down. People only get interested again when something is about to happen.

And that’s his point.

Things could be happening before the next general election in 2009. Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts, has given a commitment that there will be a referendum when Cayman proceeds with modernisation of the Constitution (Caymanian Compass, 27 March).

‘Only registered voters will be able to take part,’ Mr. Gomez emphasised.

He encouraged eligible people to register now. ‘Once we’re dealing with a referendum, we don’t want to have to deal with registering at the same time we’re trying to educate voters what a referendum is all about,’ he said.

As of last week, the number of registered voters had actually declined, he revealed. Between July 2005 and April 2006, 52 people registered. But 91 voters on the list died during that same period, so the actual number of voters declined by 39.

The total number of voters on the Official Registry of Electors (the proper name for the voters list) in January this year was 13,059.

People who are eligible to register may do so at the Elections Office on the fourth floor of Kirk House on Albert Panton Street.

It may be more convenient to register in one’s own district, where Registering Officers are committed to assisting anyone who requests help (see sidebar). To make things easier, registration forms (Form #4) have been placed in all post offices.

Registering Officers met last week with Mr. Gomez, Deputy Supervisor Colford Scott and other Election Office personnel.

They hope young people will register before they go off island to school in September. Others may be busy getting settled in new jobs, with registering not high on their list of priorities. There are plans to reach young adults through the University College of the Cayman Islands and such organizations as the Commonwealth Youth Club.

Recently naturalized people are another source of new voters, Mr. Gomez pointed out. Only a few recently naturalized people have come to the Elections Office to register to vote.

The third group of potential voters comprises people who have been qualified but who have never registered. Registering Officers indicated that a common excuse is that the person did not want to be called for jury duty, since jurors are commonly called from the voters’ list.

Officials are also using the June-August timeframe to purge the list – something that has not been done since just before Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Purging will remove the names of people who have died or moved out of the country, Mr. Gomez explained.

A number of voters had been displaced by the devastating storm, but things seem to have got back to normal and it is now time to ensure that people are in their correct polling divisions, he indicated.

People who have moved or changed their name – by marriage or by deed poll – or their occupation are required to register that change. This can be done by filling out Form 3, which is also available at post offices or from the Elections Office.

Mr. Scott pointed out that both registration and the filing of any changes is free. People may have to pay a dollar to get a copy of their birth certificate, but they would need that anyway for passports and other purposes, he said.

Registration information and other topics of interest, including the most recent updated list of voters can be found on the Elections Office website, www.electionsoffice.ky

Registering Officers

West Bay: Darlene Owens-Elliott, 916-4402

George Town: Kathryn Myles, 916-2117

Bodden Town: Kerry Nixon, 916-4478

North Side: Patricia Ebanks 916-4349

East End: Vernicia Watler, 916-4647

Cayman Brac and Little Cayman: Georgene Lazzari, 948-0343

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