With a mock polling station set up inside, and mobile polling stations parked outside, Elections Office staff took local media reporters through the voting process on Wednesday.
Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez thanked representatives from print and electronic news media for helping get information to the public in preparation for General Elections and the country’s first Referendum, on 20 May.
Deputy Supervisor of Elections Orrett Connor walked reporters through the first section of the polling station to demonstrate the process by which voters will choose their district Members of the Legislative Assembly.
One poll clerk called out his name, address and occupation (‘civil servant’) as listed in the Register of Electors. Another clerk wrote the information in the poll book. Presiding Officer Salomie Scott-Henry wrote his register number on the counterfoil of the ballot, then initialled and stamped it. She gave Mr. Connor the ballot, with instructions on how many candidates he could choose and how to fold the ballot before returning it to her.
Mr. Connor entered a voting booth and then came out to hand his ballot to Ms Scott-Henry. She detached the counterfoil and gave him back the ballot so he could deposit into the locked ballot box.
Reporters had numerous questions about the integrity of the voting process and the secrecy of the ballot.
Mr. Connor and Deputy Supervisor of Elections Colford Scott explained in detail the chain of command for ballots and election documents, and the strict process by which all ballots must be accounted for, including those spoiled by unsure voters.
Mr. Scott said the records are sealed at the close of the polls, but must be kept in case someone challenges the results in a Grand Court. After one year, all documents are destroyed in the presence of police and Justices of the Peace; until then, they must be kept in safe custody, with no one having access without a court order.
After going through the elections portion of the polling station, reporters continued to the referendum section, where the process was mostly the same. Because this ballot requires only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ choice, voting should not take long and the voting booths are not curtained, Mr. Scott pointed out.
Adding to the verisimilitude of the exercise was the presence of uniformed police officers and two civilian observers in the referendum section. (Candidates or their agents are allowed to observe in the election section.)
Reporters then visited the mobile polling stations parked behind the Smith Road Professional Centre, the building in which the Elections Office is now located.