Although the 2009 General Elections officially began yesterday with the issuing of writs to Returning Officers, the Elections Office is almost 300 workers short of what will be required for a referendum to be held on the same day as elections.
Wednesday, 20 May, was announced last year as the date when voters in all six electoral districts will choose their Members of the Legislative Assembly.
For a referendum on the Constitution to take place on the same day, the number of people required to conduct the two voting processes will double because each is separate and distinct from the other. Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez pointed out that elections are conducted under the Elections Law, while the Referendum Law governs how a referendum is conducted.
No official announcement has been made about a referendum, emphasised Orrett Connor, Deputy Supervisor of Elections. But the Elections Office must be prepared.
To recruit additional workers, Mr. Gomez has written to managers of insurance companies, law firms and trust companies asking them to provide the names and contact number for people in their organisation interested in assisting on Election Day.
‘The individuals which are being sought need not be Caymanian; however, they must have been resident for at least four years and have an understanding of Caymanian culture. They must also have a certain degree of people skills, as they will be dealing with many different individuals at the polls,’ Mr. Gomez wrote.
He pointed out that non-Caymanians have assisted with elections in the past. The need to recruit publicly comes from the ‘monumental joint exercise’ of conducting the election and referendum on the same day.
Training Officer Rupert McCoy, who is also serving as recruitment officer, explained that firms in the financial industry were being contacted first because employees there are already accustomed to dealing with documents and numbers. He noted that a number of bank workers were already serving as election personnel.
Training sessions will be provided for all volunteers and will take place evenings so as not to interfere with job schedules. ‘The only time these individuals will be required to take time off from their jobs is the afternoon prior to Election Day,’ Mr. Gomez said.
The six returning officers who received their writs yesterday are all veterans of the process. As Governor Stuart Jack explained, a writ is a written order requiring a person to perform a particular task.
The present Legislative Assembly will be dissolved on 24 March, which means 15 seats will be vacant. To fill those seats, the returning officers are ordered to receive nominations of candidates for their district the following day, Wednesday, 25 March, between 8am and 3pm.
If there are more candidates than the district has Assembly seats, the returning officer is required to hold an election on 20 May and return the writs with results by 25 May.
That date is a formality. Mr. Gomez predicted that results in all districts will be known Election Day night.
Returning officers are: West Bay, Delano Oliver Solomon;
George Town, Philip Antonio Barnes;
Bodden Town, Lee Frederick Ramoon;
Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, Dave Talbert Tatum;
East End, Dale Morrison Banks;
North Side, Jennifer Louise Kaufman.