Domestic observers desired

General elections report presented

Outgoing Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez has recommended that domestic observers be appointed for all future elections. 

Mr. Gomez revealed this fact on Friday after receiving a report from Norman Bodden, who led a team of 10 domestic observers for Cayman’s general elections on 22 May. 

“You made history by being the first domestic team appointed for an election,” Mr. Gomez said. “I think you did a fantastic job.” 

He indicated that his recommendation for future appointments was based on feedback from the public, his own observations as he toured the polling divisions around Grand Cayman, and the general endorsement by the Commonwealth Secretariat. 

“I think people appreciated the fact that you were there,” Mr. Gomez said. “At first, some were not supportive, but closer to the elections they realised how important it was to have domestic observers.” 

The report Mr. Bodden presented was a summary of data compiled by observers as they filled in a 30-question checklist for the polling stations they visited. But their observations went beyond the details of the checklist, so they felt obligated to submit unsolicited comments. 

Along with the report, Mr. Bodden handed over the dozens of checklists observers filled out during their visits to every one of Cayman’s 46 polling stations.  

Neither Mr. Gomez nor Deputy Supervisors Orrett Connor and Colford Scott knew the contents of the report in advance. However, they agreed that the report should be posted on the Elections Office website at some point so that the public could read it. 

One of the criticisms mentioned was the lateness of the observers’ appointment, with letters not sent until 9 May and the observers not meeting until 15 May. They recommended that future observers have more time to familiarise themselves with their expected role and study the checklist to see how it can be most useful. 

Mr. Gomez took the blame for the late appointments. He said it was a matter of timing, with so many things going on, and he felt he had to wait for the formal announcement that international observers were coming. The announcement of their arrival was released on 9 May. 

Mr. Bodden said the experience showed him that domestic observers can pick up on irregularities that, although small, can lead to big things. He mentioned specifically the number of voters who had names written on the palms of their hands. 

He also complimented the election workers who periodically checked voting booths to make sure no one had left anything inside. 

Mr. Bodden said the conduct of the voters themselves had been exemplary. He commented that several of the polling stations he visited reminded him of a church service because everything was so quiet and orderly. 

“The voting process went well. The Elections Law was upheld,” he concluded. 

Mr. Connor agreed. He pointed out that even what was happening now — the filed petition challenging the election of Tara Rivers in West Bay — “is part of the process as contemplated. It’s provided for in the Elections Law.” 

He, Mr. Gomez and Mr. Scott leave office on Friday, 28 June. Appointed by the Governor, Duncan Taylor, they will make their exit report to him by that date. 

In addition to Mr. Bodden, the domestic observers appointed for the 2013 General Elections were: Pastor Alson Ebanks, John Macmillan, Georgette Myrie, Tom Hines, Gilbert Connolly, Adrian Estwick, Carol Winker and, in Cayman Brac, Edgar Ashton Bodden and Joel Scott.  

The Elections Supervisor and his deputies agreed that the domestic observers’ report should be posted on the Elections Office website so that the public could read it. 

observers-present

Team leader Norman Bodden, standing, presents the domestic observers’ report to Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez along with envelopes of data collected. In attendance are, from left, John Macmillan, Colford Scott, Orrett Connor and Georgette Myrie. – Photo: Carol Winker
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