With elections slated for next year, registering officers from the Cayman Islands Elections Office visited the University College of the Cayman Islands last week to encourage young Caymanians to register to vote.
With 18,270 registered voters so far and a goal of reaching out to as many young people as possible, the Elections Office began a two-day voter registration drive at the college on Wednesday.
“We’re targeting the youth because young people on a whole should be involved and know what is happening in the country. They’re the future leaders of Cayman,” said Patricia Ebanks, registering officer for North Side.
“When you have the right to vote, you’ve got a greater voice in the country,” Ms. Ebanks said. “We have to do what’s in our power to get them to register.”
On Wednesday, six people signed up, and 15 more applications were made by midday Thursday.
Eighteen-year-old Rashien Petrie and 20-year-old business administration student Matthew Morrison told the Cayman Compass why they had registered.
Ms. Petrie, a UCCI nursing student, said, “I didn’t see a reason not to register to vote. I’d like to see change happening, like there being more opportunities for the youth, job-wise.”
Mr. Morrison said, “I [registered] because I wanted to and it was my first time.”
Students were not the only people registering to vote at UCCI during the registration drive this week.
It was Andrea Thomas-Myles’s first time registering. “I’ve lived here in Cayman for many years and I didn’t think to register. It’s now my initiative to strive to have my input on good governance,” she said.
Ms. Thomas-Myles, who works in George Town, decided to travel to UCCI to apply to vote in her district of residence, Bodden Town.
According to Salomie Henry, deputy registering officer for George Town, one of the most common reasons young people refrain from getting involved in voting is the fear of jury duty.
According to Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell, “Based on the 2010 census, some 1,478 young persons would be eligible to register to vote during the next election.”
“To put this in perspective,” he added, “the number of youth now at registration age exceeds the number of registered electors in North Side  and East End  combined. The youth numbers also exceed the number of registered voters in the Sister Islands [1,001].”
Overall election costs similar to 2013
The cost of putting on the next election, tentatively scheduled for May 24, 2017, could be cheaper than the 2013 ballot, despite the additional challenge of adapting to a new system of voting.
Mr. Howell said a total of $1.53 million has been allocated for the election, the first under the one man, one vote system.
That figure includes preparations for Election Day, as well as the logistics and personnel costs of the election itself.
Mr. Howell said just under $250,000 has been allocated for a “door-to-door exercise” designed to ensure voters’ information on the electoral roll is correct and to help familiarize them with the new system.
Other costs include training, material and supplies, logistics, advertising and short-term lease of buildings, he said. Around 350 people will be working on election-related activities in advance of and during the poll.
The overall costs of the election in 2013 came to $1.7 million.
Though Mr. Howell said the figures for 2017 are projected at this point, he expects the final costs to be in the “same ballpark” as the last election.