How ballots will be counted

Observers and scrutineers may demand recount

Colford Scott main

Seven pairs of eyes will see each ballot as it is counted to determine the outcome of today’s referendum. 

At a training session last week, more than 100 observers and scrutineers heard how the marks on ballots are to be interpreted. Deputy Supervisor of Elections Colford Scott presented a variety of situations and explained that each district’s returning officer is the person responsible for the count. His or her decision is final in determining what to do when an “X” is outside the lines or if a ballot has some other mark on it, Mr. Scott said. 

The question is: “Do you support an electoral system of single-member constituencies with each elector being entitled to cast only one vote?” The answer choices are either “YES” or “NO”.  

Results will be counted and reported by district, but it will be the national percentage of 50.01 per cent of all registered voters that would make the results binding on government, whether “yes” or “no”. With polls closing at 6pm, counting should begin at 7pm. 

Mr. Scott said all of a district’s ballot boxes go into one mixing drum. So, for example, no one will know whether a ballot in West Bay was cast at a polling station in West Bay North West or West Bay South. 

The returning officer or deputy will take some of the ballots out of the drum for a partial count, called a segment. That way, it will be easier to deal with any request for a recount. 

When the returning officer starts the count, he or she will take each ballot one at a time and show the face of it to the tally clerks and observers. There are two tally clerks, two observers appointed by the Governor and two scrutineers, one each appointed by the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition. With this arrangement seven people will see each ballot.  

On showing the ballot, the returning officer will say whether it is a “yes” or “no”. If it is rejected, he or she will say why. 

The referendum law states that where a ballot is marked other than in the proper place, or other than by an “X”, or marked with more than one mark, “the vote is valid if it clearly appears that it was intended for a particular answer”. 

Mr. Scott said the voter should place an “X” within the space to the right of the answer he or she chooses. 

If the person makes a check mark or tick instead, it will still count. 

If someone marks “XX” or “XXX”, it will count only as one vote if the marks are all for the same answer. If both “yes” and “no” are marked, the ballot will be rejected. 

If the ballot is blank, it will be rejected. If it is signed, it will also be rejected. 

If an “X” is part way across “yes” and part way across “no”, then the returning officer looks for the point at which the lines of the “X” intersect. 

Tally clerks and observers will have tally sheets to keep records. At the end of each segment count, everyone should be in agreement. If not satisfied, an observer can ask for a recount of that segment. The recount will take place then and there, with no other ballots being counted until that segment is agreed upon. No observer may demand a recount more than once in respect of any segment of the count. 

Once a segment or portion of ballots has been counted and agreed on, the next segment will be counted and so on until the process is complete. The district ballots and results will then be taken to the Referendum Command Centre for the national results. 

In welcoming participants to the Mary Miller Hall on Thursday evening, Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez said observers are appointed by Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor, while scrutineers are appointed by Premier McKeeva Bush and Leader of the Opposition Alden McLaughlin. But their roles are the same, he emphasised. 

As Deputy Supervisor Orrett Connor told the gathering, “You are they eyes and ears of the whole electoral process. You can attest to the fact that all the rules have been followed.”  

He said that was why observers are needed at the opening of the polls, during the voting hours, at the close of the polls, for the transport of ballot boxes to the counting stations and then for the count. 

The counting stations 

The votes cast in the referendum will be counted at 7pm in the following counting stations: 

West Bay, John A. Cumber Primary School, 44 Fountain Road. 

George Town, Family Life Centre, 49B Academy Road. 

Bodden Town, Savannah Primary School, 1659 Shamrock Road. 

North Side, Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre, 923 North Side Road. 

East End, William A. McLaughlin Civic Centre, 80 John McLean Drive. 

Cayman Brac & Little Cayman, Aston Rutty Civic Centre, 264 Ashton Reid Drive. 

The count will be followed by certifying the total of the ballot papers and the respective answers relating to the referendum at the Family Life Centre. 


No Liquor Sales  

The Liquor Licensing Office is reminding all liquor license holders that during the taking of the referendum polls today between the hours of 7am and 6pm, no intoxicating liquor shall be sold, offered for sale or given away at any premises situated in any electoral district in which a referendum is being held, to which a licence issued under the Liquor Licensing Law (2000 Revision) applies.  

This restriction applies to retail as well as wholesale establishments and hotels as well as bars and restaurants for the period as mentioned above. The restriction extends to one hour after the close of the polls. 

Colford Scott

Mr. Scott

Referendum observers

Referendum observers and scrutineers gather at the Mary Miller Hall to hear how ballots will be counted. – Photo: Carol Winker