Votes cast in Cayman’s first referendum on 20 May will not be counted until the next day, election officials confirmed on Friday. Along with final results, district totals will be announced.
With Wednesday, 20 May, also the date of General Elections, ‘It is practically impossible to count both candidates’ votes and referendum votes that night,’ said Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez.
The difficulties include both a shortage of personnel and a need to vacate the counting stations – many of which are schools that have to be put back in condition for classes to resume after the General Election holiday.
Deputy Supervisor of Elections Colford Scott said votes will first be counted for the candidates vying for 15 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Polls close at 6pm and the count will start at 7pm or as soon as practicable afterwards.
These counts will be in the districts, as they have been in the past, Mr. Scott noted. Once the Returning Officers have determined the candidates with the greatest number of votes, they will announce the winners and present the new representatives to the public.
‘In the case of the national referendum on Constitutional Modernisation, the ballots will be counted in a central location – one district at a time,’ Mr. Scott said.
The central location is the Family Life Centre on Academy Way, off Walkers Road, in George Town. A formal notification of referendum, issued on Friday, says the count will begin at 10am.
That formal notice, which will appear in the media this week, also lists the polling stations for the referendum, as required in the Referendum Law. The polling stations are the same as for the election, so voters will be able to proceed from one room to another to cast both ballots.
When the referendum ballots are counted, the ballot boxes from all the polling stations in one district will be emptied into a transparent drum. Ballot boxes containing postal ballots and mobile voters’ ballots for that district will also be emptied into the drum, which will then be turned to mix the ballots, Mr. Scott explained.
This process makes referendum counting different from election counting, in which polling stations, postal ballots and mobile ballots will be tallied separately and then added together.
District referendum ballots will be counted in batches; if any observer is not satisfied, he or she can demand a recount of that batch.
After all ballots from one district have been removed from the drum, referendum ballot boxes from the next district will be emptied and those ballots mixed for counting.
Mr. Scott pointed out that the referendum is a single question with a yes or no answer, so counting should go quite quickly.