Voters going to the polls on Wednesday for the referendum may want to leave their cameras and cell phones at home. Otherwise, they will be asked to leave them with a field officer outside the polling station.
The referendum is being conducted under the rules in the Elections Law. By order of the supervisor of elections, no cellular phones, personal digital assistants, cameras or other recording devices are allowed inside polling stations.
Polling stations have a 100-yard boundary. Field officers will be under a tent inside that boundary. They will give a claim check for any cell phone or recording device left in their custody while the voter enters to cast his or her ballot.
The field officers will also answer voters’ questions about the voting process. Deputy Supervisor of Elections Colford Scott said persons needing assistance should proceed to the Elections Office tents, normally located at the entrance of polling stations. Workers will be clearly identified by official picture identification issued by the Elections Office, and white polo shirts marked “Elections Office Elections Officer” or “Elections Office Referendum”, surrounding the Cayman Islands crest.
Mr. Scott said that Elections Office workers have been given an official register of electors and their respective polling divisions, so they are equipped to guide voters on where to vote and other voting-related issues.
While the polls are open, 7am to 6pm, people may not assemble or congregate inside the 100-yard boundary. The only people who may be there are referendum workers and voters waiting to cast their ballots. Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez said voters approaching their polling station can ignore people outside the 100-yard boundary, even those who say they want to help.
The presiding officer is in charge of the polling station, assisted by polling clerks. Deputy Supervisor of Elections Orrett Connor told observers and scrutineers during a briefing last week that, although a police officer is present, this is just a precautionary measure. “Never in my experience have we had to have a police officer intervene in any way,” he said.
Inside the polling station, the voter should identify himself or herself to the poll clerk by stating name, address and occupation. This information should be given loudly enough for observers and scrutineers to hear so that they can keep record on their list of voters. It is not necessary to present a voters registration card, but having it or a driver’s licence could speed up the process. It is up to the voter to satisfy the poll clerk that he is who he says he is.
After receiving a ballot, the voter should go to one of the voting compartments and place an “X” in the space to the right of the answer he or she chooses. No one should be able to see how voters mark their ballots.
If a voter comes back to the presiding officer and says he has spoiled his ballot, the officer will cancel it by writing “spoiled” across the face of it and then give the voter another ballot.
People are asked to leave the polling station after placing their ballot in the ballot box. If anyone is still waiting in line to vote at 6pm, they will be allowed to cast their ballot.
Some people who applied for mobile voting did not turn up when the mobile trailer was in their district. Out of 346 applicants, 293 voters did cast their ballots. The remainder will be able to vote on Wednesday because they never received a ballot. Mr. Scott explained: “We don’t want to disenfranchise anybody.” The situation is different for voters who applied for a postal ballot because those ballots were issued, he pointed out. Returning officers will accept postal ballots until 6pm on Wednesday.
During polling hours, on any public road or in any public place within 100 yards of a polling station, no person shall seek to influence any voter or try to ascertain how a voter has voted. Mr. Gomez said he had no problem with “exit polls” outside the boundary, pointing out that voters are free to answer questions or not, as they choose.