Postal ballots will affect speed of count
With the official number of registered voters determined, Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez has confirmed that the number of votes needed to make next month’s referendum binding is 7,582.
The referendum, scheduled by law for Wednesday, 18 July, asks one question: “Do you support an electoral system of single-member constituencies with each elector being entitled to cast only one vote?”
Passed by the Legislative Assembly on 10 May, the referendum law states that the outcome shall be binding on government “if more than fifty per centum of persons registered as electors … vote in the referendum in favour of, or against, the question”.
Deputy Supervisor of Elections Colford Scott detailed the numbers when he spoke during a training session Thursday evening for volunteers who will be staffing the referendum command centre.
He said the list of voters that comes into effect on 1 July is the one that determines who may vote. But there were no claims or objections to the previous list, so the “Revised Register of Electors” as of 21 April is the list that will be official as of 1 July. That list has a total of 15,161 names.
Fifty per cent of 15,161 is 7,580 “and a half”, Mr. Scott said, but since there cannot be half of a person, the required “more than fifty per centum” has been determined to be 7,582. This number meets the statistical mark of 50.01 per cent.
For the referendum to be binding, there would have to be at least 7,582 yes votes or at least 7,582 no votes. If neither answer receives 50.01 per cent of the registered voters, election officials think the results will be considered as advisory.
“Government will then have to decide whether they are going with single-member constituencies or retaining multiple-member constituencies. That will decide how we structure for general elections in 2013,” Mr. Scott said.
Mr. Gomez said he expected the voting and counting of ballots to go smoothly, in part because so many volunteers this year had experience with Cayman’s first referendum in May 2009.
Polling stations are to be open from 7am to 6pm and the ballot counting should start at 7pm in the six electoral districts. But, Mr. Gomez cautioned, the actual count will not start until all postal ballots have been processed. Once the counting does begin, it should go rapidly, he said.
The first issue of postal ballots took place on 8 June, with a second batch sent out on 14 June. As of that date, election officials have issued 87 postal ballots: 22 in West Bay; 24 in Bodden Town, 39 in George Town and two in North Side.
Applications for postal ballots must be received no later than Friday, 6 July.
The postal ballots, which must be returned by 6pm on 18 July, do take time to handle because the voter will have put his or her marked ballot inside an envelope that is then put inside the larger mailing envelope along with a declaration of identity. When the counting is to be done, the official in charge must check the declarations, keep track of the quantity of mailing envelopes, and place in a special receptacle the smaller envelopes containing the ballots.
If the declaration of identity is missing or faulty, the ballot will be rejected.
Only after everything has been accounted for will the returning officer open separately each envelope containing a ballot and place the ballot in a ballot box.
That ballot box will from this point onwards be treated the same as a ballot box from a polling station. The whole process will be watched over by persons specifically appointed as observers. The governor, the premier and the leader of the opposition may each appoint two persons for each counting station.
The Revised Register of Electors for 21 April can be viewed on the Elections Office website, www.electionsoffice.ky. After 1 July, printed copies will be placed in post offices and public libraries.