Ladies and gentlemen, start your voting.
The polling stations opened at 7am, but Cayman’s long-awaited general election got off to an early start Wednesday morning as Elections Office vehicles loaded with ballot boxes, police officers and volunteers left George Town in the pre-dawn hours.
Just after 5am, Elections Office vans started the trek to the polling stations in the furthest districts of East End and North Side.
The vans left more or less on time, with only a small hiccup in the process when two cars were involved in a minor fender-bender in the parking lot of the Smith Road Centre. The cars were quickly cleared and the East End van got on its way.
Deputy Elections Supervisor Orrett Connor said the vans would be responsible for transporting the locked ballot boxes back to the vote-counting station in the George Town Family Life Centre after the polls closed at 6pm. He said police officers who traveled with the Elections Office vans would also be on hand to monitor activities at the polling stations.
The bustle at the Smith Road Centre took place under the watchful eye of local election observers Norman Bodden and Carol Winker, who both arrived prior to 5am to view the proceedings.
The polls will be open from 7am to 6pm. The Elections Office expects to report voter turnout numbers every two hours starting at 9am.
The results of the polling should start trickling in between 7pm and 8pm, barring any major problems. Elections officials said the smaller districts of East End and North Side might be entirely counted by 9pm, while Grand Cayman’s larger districts – particularly George Town – may take until the wee hours of Thursday morning to tally up.
The Cayman Islands has experienced a huge increase – roughly 20 per cent – in the number of eligible voters within the country since last year’s ‘one man, one vote’ referendum. In that referendum, Cayman had 15,161 eligible voters.
For today’s vote, there are 18,464 registered voters; an increase of more than 3,300 ballots in one year.
The largest increase was seen in the George Town voting district, going form 5,911 eligible voters last year to 7,429 for Wednesday’s elections. However, Bodden Town also saw a sizeable increase in voters over a one-year period, going from 3,467 in 2012 to 4,547 – surpassing West Bay as Cayman’s second-largest voting district.
Also new for this year’s election is that George Town voters will return six MLAs to the Legislative Assembly, rather than the usual four. Bodden Towners will choose one more representative, going from three to four MLAs. All other districts will elect the same number of representatives.
Elections Office officials expected to have the entire ballot-counting completed between 6am and 8am Thursday.
Editor’s note: This story has been changed from the original to reflect updated voter numbers