Polls closed, waiting begins

The ballots have been cast in the Cayman Islands 2009 general election and the constitutional modernisation referendum.

The Elections Office should know in the next several hours which of the 43 candidates standing in this contest will comprise the new government.

Voter turnout records from the Elections Office showed that more than 12,000 people had voted, including those who voted by mail and by mobile polling. The number represents about 80 per cent of the eligible voters in the Cayman Islands.

It’s expected to take at least two and a half hours from the polls’ closing before the first results in the districts of East End and North Side are announced sometime between 8.30pm and 9pm.

After that, polling results from Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are expected in anytime between 9.30pm and 10.30pm.

Voting results from the Islands’ three largest districts, Bodden Town, West Bay and George Town are anticipated between midnight and 1am.

The referendum votes are all in at this point, but the Elections Office won’t begin counting the ballots until 10am Thursday. Referendum results will be announced Thursday evening.

Balloting began at a brisk pace Wednesday morning, with a full one-third of registered voters weighing in on the election before 11am. By 1pm, more than half the Islands’ eligible voters had cast their ballots.

The heaviest Election Day turnout, judging by percentages of eligible voters, was occurring in the districts of East End, Bodden Town and North Side.

The total number of registered voters in the Cayman Islands for the 2009 elections is 15,361.

Things seemed to be off to a smooth start in the voting districts early Wednesday morning.

However, later in the day, some problems were reported after voters near George Town Primary School were handed cards with candidate’s names and ballot numbers on them.

Both supporters and the candidates themselves were seen participating in the activity.

The Elections Office was forced to set up an information desk just outside the ‘exclusion zone’ – 300 feet from the polling location — at the school.

Election Supervisor Kearney Gomez visited the polling station around noon to ask candidates and supporters of the People’s Progressive Movement and the United Democratic Party not to hand out election materials on polling day.

Under the Elections Law, no canvassing can be done on Election Day.

In West Bay, elections workers at the John Cumber Primary School polling station reported voters showing up early with more than a dozen people casting their ballots by 7.15am.

Long lines of voters could be seen outside both Cumber Primary and John Grey United Church Hall.

It did appear that some voters that participated in the general election had not cast ballots in the constitutional referendum.

By late afternoon there was an ‘under vote’ on the constitutional referendum, according to Elections Office figures. In other words, at least several hundred people who had voted in the general election had apparently opted not to vote in the referendum on Cayman’s constitutional modernisation.

West Bay district saw the largest drop off in votes on the constitutional referendum through mid-day, although most voters said it was not difficult casting the referendum ballot.

‘It was nice, I really enjoyed it,’ said West Bayer Nicole Ritch. ‘I just went from one booth, did my thing there, went to the next booth, did my thing there and it was over.’

In George Town, queues appeared outside polling stations early. There were more than 20 people lined up outside Cayman Prep Kindergarten.

Election officials did a 30 second countdown to the opening of the polling station before ushering voters in.

The road outside George Town Primary School parking lot was packed with cars as the early morning voters headed to the polls.

The Elections Office main counting station at the Family Life Centre in George Town opened at 4am. The office reported that ballots for both the constitutional referendum and the general elections were shipped out on schedule.