Election observers set to arrive

Observers to be in place until results published

Six election observers from overseas are scheduled to arrive in the Cayman Islands beginning Wednesday and are scheduled to be in West Bay on Thursday to watch the mobile polling process. 

On 22 May, when the majority of 18,492 registered voters go to the polls, two observers will be visiting East End, North Side and Bodden Town. A second pair will cover George Town and West Bay, while the remaining two are deployed to the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. 

All are expected to be in place to see the opening of the polls at 7am. They will attempt to visit at least 90 per cent of all polling and counting venues and will spend a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour at each polling station. The observers are expected to be in place until the completion and publishing of the results.  

These details have been revealed in a news release issued by the office of Governor Duncan Taylor. 

The observers have been identified as: parliamentarians Philip Ozouf of Jersey; Margaret Mitchell of Scotland; Randolph Horton, Speaker of the House in Bermuda; legal officers Fern Narcis of Trinidad and Tobago and Juanita Barker of Guyana. The lead observer is Mario Galea, a 20-year member of parliament in Malta, who will act as official spokesman for the election observer mission and be responsible for resulting reports. 

Mr. Galea is scheduled to hold a press conference within a day or two of his arrival and another after election day, when a preliminary report will be disseminated. The team will depart on or before 28 May and a final report is to be produced within two months.  

The observers will be responsible for “observing the pre-election day, polling day and election count procedures in their assigned areas and report on the findings accurately and efficiently”. 

The six observers will be joined by one or two election analysts and an administrator.  

The remit of the mission is to observe eight aspects of the election. 

“Political campaign” includes campaign activities, resources, media involvement and monitoring, and finance. 

“Electoral framework and administration” includes the Elections Law and other legislation, complaints and the appeals process, the administrative structure and resources. 

Under the heading “Voter and candidate registration” are criteria, systems and procedures, accuracy, inclusivity, and equality. 

“Voter education” is to be looked at in terms of access and availability. 

“Polling” includes the final day of mobile polling as well as the ballot itself – design and security. 

“The count” covers processes and procedures. 

The final aspects are “Tabulation” and “Post election complaints and appeals”. 

The Cayman Islands has not had overseas observers for previous elections. In February this year, the United Kingdom government asked the Cayman Islands to “invite” foreign observers to witness the May general election. 

In March, Cayman’s legislators voted against a private member’s motion brought by West Bay representative McKeeva Bush and calling for a rejection of election observers. 

In April, Mr. Taylor wrote to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association requesting that the group organise a team of observers. It was confirmed at this time that the costs of the mission would be met by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 

The latest release from the Governor’s Office explains that the election observer mission is being arranged by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association British Isles and Mediterranean Region in partnership with the nonprofit organisation Electoral Reform International Services and with the Association of Caribbean Electoral Organisations. 

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