The Elections Law sets out procedures by which registered voters will cast their ballots and have them counted, but even people who are not voters will be affected by some of the law’s provisions.
Chief among these is the ban on liquor and the requirement that employees be given time off to vote.
Wednesday, May 24, is a public holiday because it is the day appointed for the holding of a general election.
Time off to vote
Schools, public offices and many businesses will be closed, but if registered voters are working that day, they must be given reasonable time off to vote.
No employer is allowed to make any deduction from pay or any other remuneration or impose any penalty on an individual who needs time to vote. Any employer who refuses or interferes with the granting of a reasonable time to vote commits an offense.
Penalty on conviction is a fine of up to $500 or imprisonment.
Some employees may choose to vote before coming in to work. Other employees may prefer voting toward the end of the day or during an extended lunch break. It would make sense for employers to discuss arrangements in advance so that workplace schedules can be adjusted accordingly.
The Elections Law specifies that no intoxicating liquor shall be sold, offered for sale or given away at any premises that has a license issued under the Liquor Licensing Law. This ban applies to any electoral district in which an election is being held.
This year, that means the entire Cayman Islands.
The ban applies to the time between the opening of the polls and one hour after the closing. Typically, the polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. However, if there are voters inside the polling station who have not yet cast their ballot and have not been able to since their arrival, “the poll shall be kept open a sufficient time to enable them to vote.”
The prohibited hours are therefore from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., unless an electoral district polling division has remained open to accommodate voters waiting past 6 p.m.
Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell confirmed at a press briefings on May 12 that he had received queries from restaurants, hotels and duty-free shops about this prohibition. He said he had forwarded them to the Solicitor General for clarification. A press release was expected in time for license holders to plan accordingly.
For both liquor and advertising, Mr. Howell described May 24 as “a dry day.”
No campaign advertising is allowed on Election Day. This prohibition applies to newspapers, periodicals, radio, television or any other printed or electronic form.
Billboards should be taken down and roadside signs removed Tuesday night, May 23, by midnight.
The advertising ban extends to loudspeakers and banners on vehicles.
T-shirts with campaign logos or a candidate’s name/face are not permitted within the polling area. Election officials will not concern themselves with colors, even if a color may have an association with a political party or group.
The polling area is 100 yards from any building in which a polling station is located. No one is allowed to congregate within this 100-yard area except people who are waiting to vote or who may lawfully enter, such as candidates’ agents.
Rules for voters
Supervisor of Elections Mr. Howell and Deputy Supervisors Sheena Glasgow and Suzanne Bothwell have met with candidates and their agents to explain the law as it pertains to them.
All three have participated in training sessions for election workers to explain the relevant parts of the law for them. Public education about the sections of the law that pertain to voters has been an ongoing process.
One of the most important things a registered voter can do is find out in advance where he or she should go to vote.
People who have voted before should not assume they will be assigned to the same place this year.
Cayman is divided into 19 polling divisions according to geography. An individual’s polling division is based on his or her street address as it is listed in the Official Register of Voters.
This information can be checked in the brown-covered Register of Electors posted in supermarkets, gas stations and government buildings. It is also on the Elections Office website, www.electionsoffice.ky.
The polling place will be a building in the polling division (constituency) and is either a school, church hall or public structure.
In order to have more people voting at the same time, there will be several voting stations: for example, different classrooms at the same school. These stations will be assigned according to the first letters of the voter’s last name.
Voters should carry their ID cards issued by the Elections Office, or another form of identification that has a photo.
See page 9 for details on voting with and without an ID card.
Children will not be allowed inside polling stations, so parents may have to juggle voting times or arrange babysitting with a neighbor.
Also not allowed are cameras, cellphones or other electronic equipment.
Are you in the right place?
Field officers will be stationed outside the polling stations. They will double check that the voter is at the correct place. They will have complete lists of voters for all electoral districts, so that if someone is in the wrong place, he or she will be told where to go.
Field officers will also hold electronic equipment and give the owner a ticket for reclaiming the property after he or she has voted. This may take a while, but the delay can be avoided by leaving such items at home.
Inside the polling station
Inside the polling station, the presiding officer is in charge of maintaining order and decorum. A police officer will be on hand to assist the presiding officer as may be required. For more on this, see page 29.
Candidates or their agents may be present along with other lawful observers; voters may know them, but this is not the time for socializing. Voters will be expected to follow the directions of the poll clerks and presiding officer, cast their ballot and leave quietly.
During the hours that the polls are open, no one is allowed to seek to influence any voter to vote for any candidate.
No one is allowed to try to ascertain what candidate a voter intends to vote for or has voted for. In other words, no exit polls.
This section of the Elections Law pertains to any public road or public place within 100 yards of a polling station.
Mr. Howell said election officials are asking for courtesy within the polling stations. That same word should apply in electoral districts throughout the day.