From before sunup until well after midnight, the Cayman Islands were ringing with the sounds of democracy in action.
Officials and volunteers convened at Elections Office headquarters long before the proverbial early bird had a chance to hit the snooze button. In the pre-dawn darkness, and led by Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell, they packed up empty ballot boxes and necessary paraphernalia and transported them to all corners of the country, where other officials and volunteers waited at polling stations to prepare for the coming swarms of voters.
They didn’t have to wait long, as queues of eager voters snaked around polling stations in anticipation of the 7 a.m. opening. Candidates and their representatives bustled about, inspecting, verifying and meeting-and-greeting supporters, friends, neighbors and critics alike – all in the spirit of ensuring that Election Day 2017 remained just as peaceful and civil as in years past.
(We are happy to report that police officers stationed at the polling places ended up having little to do on their shifts. Perhaps the most law enforcement “excitement” was limited to voluntary constables noticing the odd campaign sign or two that had been overlooked, and had not been taken down by midnight Wednesday. Boring, especially when it comes to policing, is a good thing.)
After the polls closed at 6 p.m., the ballots were counted diligently – and swiftly enough – with results published on a regular basis by the Elections Office. No serious questions were immediately raised about the transparency of the elections process or the accuracy of the vote tallies.
To all the candidates – the victors and the less-fortunate – your countrymen owe you a considerable measure of thanks for stepping up to offer your services and leadership to these islands. Caymanian voters also need to be recognized for participating in this fundamental component of our free society. And, of course, elections officials and volunteers deserve a special “thumbs-up” for, well, stepping up.
Here we’ll reserve a well-deserved word or two of praise for Elections Supervisor Howell, who we imagine is the most elated (and most relieved) of all the parties mentioned above about how Election Day went. Although Mr. Howell has been involved with the Elections Office for decades, Wednesday was the first time he was tasked with conducting the symphony, since taking the baton from predecessor Kearney Gomez.
An additional challenge for Mr. Howell was that Wednesday was also the first time for Cayman’s elections to be held under the new One Man, One Vote system – with 19 individual constituencies across our three islands.
The highest praise one can bestow upon a bodyguard or an antivirus software (or a careful editor), and the definitive sign that they have performed their function admirably, is that the ordinary person’s attention is never drawn to their presence. That invisible presence is the product of considerable time invested in preparation, and the considerable effort of constant vigilance. The same could be said about Elections Supervisor Howell and the performance of him and his team on Wednesday.
Looking back at the vigor of the campaign season and its apotheosis on Wednesday, we can all, finally, let ourselves relax a bit – and look forward to the future with calm optimism and anticipation.