Voter IDs in May ’08

The Elections Office will not issue identification cards for registered voters until May 2008 when the programme will be published for Cayman’s general elections in May 2009.

Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez and Deputy Supervisor of Elections Orret Connor encourage eligible people to register to vote and not wait for the ID cards. Young people going to school off-island are especially urged to register before the start of the new school term.

Elector registration cards, as they are referred to in the Elections Law, are not mandatory in order to vote: they are meant to make the process easier.

The men explained that the cards are not being issued now because, depending on the progress made with the ongoing Constitutional review, there is the possibility of going to single-member constituencies before the next elections, which could affect the voter’s polling station. If that happened, the cards would have to be re-designed and re-issued.

Issuing a version now would be ‘an exercise in futility and a waste of funds,’ Mr. Gomez said.

But there are other considerations as well. The islands’ last general elections occurred eight months after the devastation of Hurricane Ivan. Some of the facilities used as polling stations were makeshift – Pedro Castle in Bodden Town, for example – because traditionally used buildings had been damaged. The Elections Office will investigate facilities throughout the islands to determine which are appropriate for use.

Another consideration from the last elections was the displacement of voters who had to temporarily leave their damaged homes and reside in another district until repairs or rebuilding could be done. In 2005 they voted in the district they considered their permanent residence.

Now, after three years, those situations should be regularised, Mr. Connor said.

District registering officers have the right to take a person off the Voters List if they find that the person is not in the district.

‘When purging the Voters List, they will look for people who have moved out of the district,’ he said.

Individuals who are eligible to vote should register as soon as possible, Mr. Connor said, not only to take part in general elections but in the event of a referendum or consultative poll.

There is a form available at all post offices for registered voters who need to change their name, address or occupation from the way it appears on the current list. A name change, as in the case of marriage or change by deed poll, will have to have documentary evidence. Change of address or occupation does not require documentation.

This form, number 13, may be handed in or mailed to the registering officer in the district or to the officer in care of the Elections Office.

Mr. Gomez said about 8,000 voter IDs were issued prior to the 2000 elections. A lot of people lost their cards in Ivan.

Once the Elections Office begins issuing cards, the process will go smoothly because the same strategies used before will be used again: setting up in public places, going to large companies and issuing the cards on site for employees who are registered voters.

‘Our activities for the coming election will take the same format as in other elections in terms of encouraging people to register, identifying polling stations and issuing of voter registration cards,’ Mr. Connor said. ‘In the event that any procedures may change as a result of any Constitutional changes, the Elections Office would be prepared and ready to implement changes. We’re prepared to continue as normal, but if changes are needed they will be made.’

Mr. Gomez reminded the public of the Elections Office website, www.electionsoffice.ky, which carries not only voters lists and forms, but also the complete Elections Law and qualifications for voters.

Contacts are also listed for the district registering officers: West Bay, Darlene Owens-Elliott; George Town, Kathryn Myles; Bodden Town, Kerry Nixon; East End, Vernicia Watler; North Side, Patricia Ebanks; Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, Georgene Lazzari.

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