Referendum Day

53 per cent turnout

Update 5.30pm: Voters participating in the referendum
breached the 8,000 turnout mark following a tally released at 5pm.

According to the elections office, 7,715 voters had turned
up at the polls between 7am and 5pm Wednesday. Added to that were 293 mobile
voters. Postal ballots had not been tallied yet.

The number is significant for the referendum. It means that
at least 7,582 people voted – the minimum number of “yes” votes or “no” votes
that would have to be received for the ‘one man, one vote’ referendum to be
binding on government.

However, with only 8,008 of 15,161 possible votes cast it
would appear that either side of the issue would have to obtain more than 90
per cent favourable votes to win the day. Otherwise, the referendum would be
considered only “advisory” to government.

Only one hour, the 5pm to 6pm tally, was left to be returned.

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller – a major supporter of the ‘one man, one vote’ issue – said Wednesday afternoon that
he had been looking for a turnout of between 70 and 80 per cent. Seventy per
cent eligible voters would mean more than 10,600 ballots cast in the
referendum.

“I’m pleased with the turnout of North Side voters,” Mr. Miller said. North Side had the highest percentage turnout of any of the voting districts.

Minister Rolston Anglin said he was not surprised by the turnout, though he and his colleagues were disappointed that more people did not exercise their democratic right to vote.

“It’s the first national referendum [outside of an election] and it’s certainly an unknown. We don’t have anything to gauge [voter turnout] against,” he said.

Mr. Anglin said he said the low turnout was likely an indication that people were not interested in changing the existing voting system, despite his party urging people not to assume that by failing to cast a ballot they were effectively casting a no vote.

Update 3.45pm: A total of 6,822 people had voted in Cayman’s ‘one man, one vote’ referendum issue through 3pm Wednesday. Mobile ballots bring that total to 7,115 with three hours left to go in the polling.

That brings the voter turnout to about 47 percent, not counting any postal ballots that were returned. 

After the 3pm ballots were received during the 2009 general election, election office records show voter turnout at that stage to have been 63 per cent.

At 3pm, the highest voter turnout by district had occurred in North Side at 57 per cent. The lowest turnout occurred in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman – 34 per cent.

Update 3.30pm: Some more detailed figures were released on the 11am to 1pm voting.

West Bay – 401 voters turned out over the lunch hours of 11am to 1pm. That brings the number of voters going to the polls today to 1,377. West Bay had 56 mobile (early) voters, for a total so far of 1,433.
 
George Town – 639 voters reported between 11am-1pm. Total voters so far today, 2,264. GT had 89 mobile voters, for a total so far of 2,353.
 
Cayman Brac and Little Cayman – 70 voters reported between 11am-1pm. Total visiting the polls so far, 270. This district had 45 mobile voters, for a total so far of 315.
 
Bodden Town – There were 394 voters between 11am and 1pm. This brings today’s total so far to 1,328. With the district’s 61 mobile voters, the cumulative figure is 1,389.
 
North Side –  71 voters from 11am to 1pm. Total to the polls so far today, 267. With 21 mobile votes, the total is 288.
 
East End – 67 voters between 11am and 1pm. Total so far today, 205. With 21 mobile voters, the sum so far is 226.
 
Voter turnout across the Cayman Islands over the lunch hours was 1,642.  Today so far the total is 5,711. With the early mobile voters added, the number of ballots cast so far is 6,004. 

Update 2:15pm: Just more than 5,700 people had walked into the polls in the Cayman Islands and voted on the issue of single-member constituencies as of 1pm Wednesday.

That figure, combined with 293 mobile polling ballots has just put the voter count over 6,000. There were also 342 postal ballots issued, but it’s unclear at this stage how many of those had been returned to the district’s returning officer.

With six hours of voting past, and five more to go – the key figure of 7,582 has not yet been reached by referendum voters. That is the number of “yes” or “no” votes that must be achieved for this public vote to be considered legally binding upon the government.
 

Updated 12noon: In the first four hours of voting Wednesday, just more than 4,000 people had turned out to cast their ballots in the ‘one man, one vote’ referendum.

The total turnout – 4,069 voters – not counting postal and mobile ballots, represents about 27 percent of Cayman’s total eligible voting population. Including 293 mobile voters, that moves the total vote up to 4,362 – up to about 29 percent of total voters.

By comparison, in the first four hours of voting during the 2009 general elections more than 6,200 people had turned out to vote.

Turnout for this off-year referendum election was always expected to be lower than a typical general election vote where Cayman usually averages between 75 and 85 per cent overall voter turnout.

Between 9am and 11am, individual district voting broke down as follows:

Bodden Town – 437 voters turned out, bringing total to 934 coming to the polls.
 
East End – 71 voters. Total so far, 138.
 
North Side – 100 voters. Total to 11am is 196.
 
Cayman Brac and Little Cayman – 115 voters. Total 200 votes.
 
West Bay – 449 voters, for a total of 976 so far.
 
George Town – 819 voted from 9-11am, for a total of 1,625 so far.
 
Updated 10am: More than 2,000 people turned out to vote in the first two hours of Cayman’s referendum on single member constituencies, according to reports from the Elections Office. 

The 2,078 who voted between 7am and 9am Wednesday did not include those who were issued postal ballots or those who participated in mobile voting. The total number of postal ballots issued and mobile voters identified was 635, the elections office noted. The elections office said 293 people participated in mobile voting. The postal ballots had not all been returned yet, but more than 300 have been issued.

Turnout early on was highest in the Savannah-Newlands area, where some 40 per cent of eligible voters attended the polling station within the first two hours of the referendum.

Results from the balloting wouldn’t be known until after 7pm Wednesday.

Updated 7am: Polling stations opened all across the
Cayman Islands early Wednesday morning as thousands of local voters
prepared to cast their ballots in the ‘one man, one vote’ referendum. 

“5-4-3-2-1.
Seven o’clock. The polling stations should now all be open. to show the
open and empty ballot boxes to observers and scrutineers.” With those
words, Deputy Supervisor of Elections Colford Scott gave the signal for
voting to start in Cayman’s historic Single-Member Constituency
referendum.

It seems some of the early-in-the-day voters were eager to cast their ballots.

Melides
(Mae) Carrazana was the first through the polling booth door at West
Bay Central at John A Cumber school. “There was another lady in front of
me, but she didn’t move, so I went first,” Ms Mae said.

There
were about 10 people in the line at West Bay Central district voting
station when the polls opened. Short lines of people were also already
in place when the other three stations opened in West Bay at 7am.

Lines of voters were also reported early on in Bodden Town district by 7.30am.

“The
polls just opened. I expected there to be a little bit more activity,”
said David Sargison who voted at the Agriculture Grounds polling
location.

A small but steady stream
of voters were spotted at the George Town Primary School during the
morning. Down the road at Victory Tabernacle there were somewhat fewer
voters.

The referendum 

If
it is to mandate change within Cayman’s electoral system, the ballot
issue must receive no fewer than 7,582 “yes” votes – 50 per cent plus
one of the total registered voters.

The ballot question reads:
“Do you support an electoral system of single-member constituencies with
each elector being entitled to cast only one vote?”

If the
ballot issue receives the required number of “yes” votes, it will be
considered binding on the government – changing Cayman’s current six
multi-member voting districts to 18 single-member districts or
constituencies. 

Similarly, if it receives 7,582 “no” votes that would also be considered binding.

If the ballot issue does not reach the required number of votes, it will be merely considered advisory to the government.

Early start 

Although the polls opened at 7am, referendum morning got underway promptly at 5am when the first van left the Elections Office compound on Smith Road, headed for East End.

In the next 28 minutes, 14 more vans rolled out to polling stations in the other districts, carrying the presiding officer, poll workers, police officers and, of course, the all-important ballot boxes.

“Like clockwork” is the favourite phrase of Kearney Gomez, Supervisor of Elections.

Shortly after 6am, Mr. Gomez had moved to the Referendum Command Centre (the Family Life Centre) off Walkers Road. Election Office deputies Orrett Connor and Colford Scott joined him there, receiving radio messages from the polling stations and hearing that everyone was ready for the 7am opening of the polls.

Polling stations

Bodden Town: Savannah Primary School, Bodden Town Primary School, the Agricultural Grounds on Agricola Drive.

North Side: North Side Primary School

East End: East End Civic Centre

Cayman Brac and Little Cayman: Creek Primary School, Spot Bay Primary School, West End Primary School

George Town: Victory Tabernacle on Eastern Avenue, Prep Kindergarten, Red Bay Primary School, George Town Primary, George Hicks High School Hall, Prospect Primary School

West Bay: Presbyterian Church of Boatswain Bay, the tent on the corner of Willie Farrington Drive and West Bay Road, John A. Cumber Primary School, the tent on vacant lot at #88 Northwest Point Road

 

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