Six electoral districts will generate 54 ballot boxes to be counted
Election officials in the Cayman Islands will release voter turnout numbers every two hours on Referendum Day, 18 July, so that people can compare total ballots cast with the critical number needed to make the referendum binding.
The question, which asks if the voter supports a system of single-member constituencies and “one man, one vote” must be answered one way or the other by 50.01 per cent of registered voters – not voters voting – in order to be binding. With 15,161 registered voters, the critical number of either yes votes or no votes is 7,582 (Caymanian Compass, 19 June). Any total less than that would most likely be considered advisory.
Deputy Supervisor of Elections Colford Scott explained on Monday the procedure by which polling station workers will communicate to a central command centre the number or voters who cast ballots between 7am, which is when polls open, and 9am. Those numbers will be confirmed and then shared with local media for news updates. Voting totals will be reported every two hours after that – 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm – with the day’s total after polls close at 6pm.
If there are registered voters standing in line at 6pm, the polling time will be extended at that station, Mr. Scott said.
The counting of ballots is scheduled to begin at 7pm. If one district is not ready, counting in the other districts will not be delayed.
The mechanics of holding the referendum were detailed by Mr. Scott and Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez during a media briefing on Monday. Mr. Gomez thanked reporters for attending and helping to educate the public about the voting process. The watchwords of the Elections Office are transparency and accountability, he said, pledging to answer any questions and offering staff assistance to deal with technical issues.
Mr. Scott explained that the six electoral districts of the Cayman Islands have been split into 17 polling divisions with a total of 39 polling stations. There are also nine mobile stations to accommodate voters who are on-Island but unable to come to the polls. This category includes police officers and referendum workers who need to cast their ballot ahead of time, plus invalids who will be visited at their residence.
There is also an operation in each district for people who vote by postal ballot.
“That gives us 54 ballot boxes that have to be counted on the night,” Mr. Scott said.
Both men think the results will be known in the early hours if Thursday, 19 July. However, Mr. Gomez cautioned, a lot will depend on the number of postal ballots received because they require extra handling. As of Monday, 135 postal ballots had been issued: West Bay, 31; George Town, 65; Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, 2; Bodden Town, 34; North Side, 3; East End, none.
Mobile voting will not affect counting time because those individuals place their ballots directly into a locked ballot box.
Applications for either mobile voting or postal ballots must be received by Friday, 6 July.
Mobile voting will be concluded by 12 July or, if officials are unable to complete a district in one day, by 13 July.
Postal ballots can be returned or hand-delivered up until the close of polls on 18 July. Once the postal ballots have been dealt with, the rest of the count should go quickly, Mr. Gomez said, because there are only two polling stations for which the number of assigned registered voters is more than 500.
The referendum process this year is similar to the process in 2009, when voters were asked whether they were in favour of a new constitution. One difference is that, in Cayman’s first referendum, the governor appointed persons to observe the conduct of the referendum, the verification of the ballot paper accounts and the counting of the ballots. This year, the governor is still appointing observers, but in addition, the premier and the leader of the opposition may each appoint two persons for each polling station and each counting station. The political appointees are known as scrutineers, but the role of the observer and the scrutineer is the same.
For the most part, polling stations are the same as in 2009. However, there are changes in West Bay, where churches used formerly were not available this year. The Elections Office has arranged for air-conditioned tents to be set up as polling stations.