From the time a voter stands in front of the poll clerks to the time he or she deposits the ballot and leaves the polling station, no more than three minutes should have elapsed.
That is the time frame explained by Elections Office training officer Rupert McCoy – the time frame election workers in Grand Cayman have been aiming for since they first met on Feb. 9. The time frame was reinforced as training sessions continued in March and April.
Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell encouraged election workers and even offered additional small group sessions if needed.
“We want you to be comfortable with processing people as they come through,” he said at a gathering of presiding officers, poll clerks, field officers and logistics teams. Each had been given a handbook detailing the duties of each position; studying it between training sessions was strongly recommended.
Election workers met and practiced with the same people they will be working with on Election Day, May 24. Each team combined veteran election workers with newcomers.
Training took place at the Mary Miller Hall, where logistics teams set up tables, chairs and voting booths. At a training session for George Town, for example, seven stations were set up – one for each constituency. Chief Logistics Officer Wintroy Randal confirmed that six men completed the task in 20 minutes. The same teams will be responsible for setting up polling stations for Election Day.
The training sessions observed by the Cayman Compass began with a brief prayer, followed by remarks from Mr. Howell, explanations of the evening’s activities from Mr. McCoy or training officer Delano Solomon, and then practice.
Workers not serving as poll clerks or presiding officers took on the roles of voters, standing in line and going through the process. Each had been given a piece of paper with the name, address and occupation of a registered voter. Each presented that information to the poll clerks, one of whom had to find the name on the register of electors and draw a line through it, while the other entered the information in a poll book.
The voter then proceeded to the presiding officer who handed over a ballot and gave instructions on how to mark it and return it.
The ballot in this year’s election will be different from ballots in past years. Instead of just the candidates’ names, it will consist of four columns: The first column will be the candidates’ names, the second column will contain their photos, and the third column will have a symbol of their party or an indication that the candidate is an independent. The fourth column is where the voter marks an “X” to the right of the name of the one candidate he or she wishes to vote for.
In the new system of “one man, one vote,” no voter in any district may choose more than one candidate.
In various scenarios introduced to test the workers, some role-playing voters spoiled their ballots and asked for another; one was heard demanding that her “daughter” go into the voting booth with her; one took out a pen and was going to mark her ballot without going into the booth.
Training officers, along with Deputy Supervisors Sheena Glasgow and Suzanne Bothwell, circulated among the constituency stations to observe and to answer questions.
Returning officers, who were appointed in December, have also attended the training sessions with the officers who will be working in their constituency. In addition, the returning officers had their own training session to deal with Nomination Day (March 29) and postal ballots. They had a second session in April to deal with the opening of postal ballots and the counting of ballots after the polls close.
Election workers and returning officers for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman had separate training schedules.