Cayman has 18,492 registered voters, but 595 of them applied for postal ballots, while about 700 people opted for mobile polling last week. That still leaves more than 17,000 voters entitled to cast ballots in the general election on Wednesday, 22 May.
It will be a busy day, but voters can do their part to help the process run smoothly.
The Cayman Islands are divided into 18 polling divisions according to geography. An individual’s polling division is based on a voter’s street address as it is listed in the Official Register of Electors.
This information can be checked in the blue-covered Register of Electors posted in supermarkets, gas stations and government buildings. It is also on the Elections Office website.
The actual voting location is generally a school or church building within the polling division. There will be several stations, so more people can vote at the same time. A voter’s station is assigned according to the first letter of the individual’s last name.
An elector must vote at their assigned station because presiding officers at each station will have been given a specific number of ballots based on the number of registered voters.
The polls open at 7am. The busiest time may be between 7 and 10am, partly because election day is a public holiday and people may have social activities planned. Polls remain open until 6pm, but any voter standing in line at 6pm will be able to cast a ballot.
Children are not allowed inside polling stations, so parents may have to juggle voting times or arrange baby-sitting with a neighbour.
Voters should bring their elector registration cards to the polling station. If an elector does not have this card, a passport, driver’s licence or employee ID card with a photo will suffice.
Voters are urged to leave cell phones, cameras and other electronic equipment at home. If an elector has any of these devices with them, they will be asked to leave it outside with a field officer. Voters may not have any recording equipment inside the polling station. Field officers will point voters to their polling station.
The voting process is illustrated in the accompanying diagram.
If there is a line of people waiting to vote at a given station, voters should wait until a poll clerk calls them forward. Electors then should state their name, address and occupation. The clerks will check the voters’ list and write a voter’s information in a poll book. Have identification ready.
There may be observers, candidates and agents sitting off to the side. They are not allowed to approach a voter in any way, but they might question a voter’s identity. In such a case, the presiding officer makes the decision based on procedures specified in the Elections Law. Having a photo ID is the best way to avoid problems or delays.
Once the poll clerks have recorded an elector’s attendance, the presiding officer will give a voter a ballot after the presiding officer has folded, stamped and initialled it, and explained how many candidates for which an elector may vote.
Proceed to an empty voting booth. An elector may choose to vote for fewer candidates than legally entitled to, but may not vote for more. For example, if an elector has four votes, they may put an “X” to the right of one, two, three or four names. If the voter marks five names, the ballot will be rejected during counting.
If an elector is entitled to vote for more than one candidate, but put all of their “X”s next to one name, that will count only as one vote.
The candidates are listed in alphabetical order, last name first.
If a voter makes a mistake, tell the presiding officer the ballot has been spoiled. The presiding officer will place it in a special envelope and then give the elector another ballot. If an elector needs help, the presiding officer will offer assistance at the table, not in a booth. No one may go into a booth with an elector.
Once a voter has marked the ballot, they should refold it as it was given to them so that the votes are not visible. Give the ballot back to the presiding officer, who will check his stamp and initials, so he knows an elector’s ballot is the same one he issued.
The presiding officer will keep the ballot folded and remove a counterfoil, which is like a ticket stub for accounting purposes. The officer will return the ballot to the voter for them to drop it into the ballot box.
An elector should leave the polling station immediately upon casting a completed ballot.
The Elections Law provides that, apart from waiting voters, election workers and others specified in the law, no persons shall assemble or congregate within 100 yards of any polling station. This rule is meant to help maintain order and provide a quiet atmosphere. Those failing to adhere to these restrictions is liable to a $500 fine and six months imprisonment.