New registering officer for West Bay

Darlene Owens-Elliott, Wesley Howell and Bethany Powery-Ebanks

Bethany Powery-Ebanks has been appointed the new registering officer for West Bay by the Elections Office.

She takes over from Darlene Owens-Elliott, who served more than 20 years in the post.

Ms. Powery-Ebanks will be responsible for registering those voters in West Bay whose names are not on the voter registration list before election day.

Ms. Powery-Ebanks said since she is in a new role, she is looking into setting up locations where she can meet with the community to assist with registration. In the meantime she can also be contacted by telephone on 516-4402 to arrange to meet with individuals.

Ms. Powery-Ebanks got involved with the Elections Office during the 2013 elections, when Ms. Owens-Elliott contacted her about assisting her with registering voters.

She comes into the role with knowledge handed down from her mother, Dolcy Powery, who assisted the Elections Office as well.

“The most important thing I learnt from those individuals is the level of professionalism displayed in dealing with the general public, and the importance of ensuring the validity and authenticity of documents received from prospective voters,” she said.

She says she got involved because she recognized the importance of exercising one’s right to vote, and found helping individuals with the registering process and knowing that she has aided in the democratic process to be very rewarding.

Her job also includes ensuring that those electors on the register of electors who no longer reside in the West Bay Electoral District do not appear on the list. This also applies to those who are deceased, found to be of unsound mind, or are serving or under a sentence of imprisonment exceeding twelve months.

Kathryn Myles, 516-2117
Kerry Nixon, 516-4478
Leisa Welcome, 516-4647
Patricia Ebanks, 516-4349
Ellen Lazzari, 516-5307

“We confirm individuals are qualified to register by making sure they meet the various criteria as set out in the Elections Law, along with the relevant sections of the Cayman Islands Constitution,” she said.

Ms. Powery-Ebanks grew up in West Bay. She attended Cayman Prep and graduated from the Cayman Islands High School, now known as John Gray High School. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree from the International College of the Cayman Islands.

A firm believer in giving back to her community, Ms. Powery was the past Parent Teacher Association president at the Sir John A. Cumber Primary School. She still assists at her daughter’s school, Grace Christian Academy, whenever needed, and is also very involved with the Boatswain Bay Presbyterian Church, which she attends.

She thanked the Elections Office and Ms. Owens-Elliott for the confidence they have placed in her to carry out the important task of registering voters in the district of West Bay.

“Miss Darlene has been doing this job for many years and I know that I have very big shoes to fill. However, I am committed to maintaining the high standards that she has set for this job. I would like the West Bay community to know that they are still in good hands and I am here to assist, and do my part to ensure we have a smooth election process in our district,” she said.

Wesley Howell, Supervisor of Elections, said he was sure that Ms. Powery-Ebanks would provide equally exemplary service to all the voters for the new West Bay electoral districts, which will come into force for the May 2017 General Elections, when “one person, one vote” will be introduced to the Cayman Islands.

The enumeration of voters started on Saturday, Aug. 27 with over 160 enumerators visiting all buildings in the Cayman Islands to update the Voters Registration list. Through a door-to-door process, enumerators will explain the registration process to voters, collect personal information from voters who wish to register, verify proof of identity and address, and complete appropriate paperwork. The paperwork is then forwarded to the Registering Officers for their review and input.

Passing the torch

At the hand-over at the Elections Office in Smith Road Centre, Mr. Howell gratefully acknowledged the meticulous service that Ms. Owens-Elliott has provided over the past two decades to the electoral process and the voters of the West Bay district.

“Her thoroughness and keen attention to detail raised the quality of the work she provided to the community to the highest standards,” said Mr. Howell. He thanked Ms. Owens-Elliott for all her efforts and work over the years.

“You have provided exceptional service to your community,” he added.

Ms. Owens-Elliott took on the responsibility of West Bay’s registering officer upon retiring from the Immigration Department after 25 years of service as a senior immigration officer.

Reflecting on some of the more notable moments of her role, Ms. Owens-Elliott said it was customary for her to receive election workers even after 11 p.m., when they brought her the forms they had collected.

As registering officer, she also ensured that deceased persons’ names, as well as names of persons declared of unsound mind by the Chief Medical Officer or those otherwise ineligible to vote were removed, and new successful applicants’ names were included on the electors list.

Ms. Owens-Elliott decided not to continue in her public office due to health issues. However, she has assured the office that she will continue to be available to Ms. Powery-Ebanks as necessary.

“My years with the Elections Office provided a great learning experience. I enjoyed the work very much and am going to miss my coworkers. But my health is deteriorating and we need younger blood in the office now,” she said.