***Editor’s Note: Our journalists fanned out across the country to report on Election Day as it happened. Here are our stories and “live posts” from the day.***
Conolly wants to focus on education
12:20 am update: Once the final results were announced in George Town South, winner Barbara Conolly expressed gratitude for her victory. Supporters gathered at the John Gray High School polling station to celebrate with her.
Education will be her priority focus in government. “Right now kids are not prepared to go hold jobs because of lack of education,” she said.
Ms. Conolly called the overall outcome for the Progressives bittersweet.
“I was optimistic today that my party would have gotten the majority. So right now, as happy as I am to be successful, at the end of the day I am saddened by my Progressives candidates who were not successful,” she said.
Challenger Alric Lindsay said he respected the outcome. Despite his loss, he called the election a learning experience.
Bryan celebrates big win over incumbent Archer
11:50 pm update: At George Town Central, a hotly contested seat between independent Kenneth Bryan and Progressives incumbent Marco Archer, big celebrations erupted when Mr. Bryan was announced the victor.
After hoisting Mr. Bryan on their shoulders, an impromptu procession of supporters accompanied him back to his campaign headquarters. Some 150-200 people gathered to join the celebrations, blaring car horns and banging drums.
Mr. Bryan described his win as “victory for the people of George Town Central.”
Final tallies indicate that the winners include nine independents, seven members of the ruling Progressives party and three Cayman Democratic Party candidates (all in West Bay).
Conolly says she’s heartbroken despite win
11:49 pm update: Progressives candidate Barbara Conolly said she is heartbroken despite her win in George Town South.
The party performed worse than she had hoped and she expects the coming week to bring outreach to independent candidates, that she described as a wild card for government.
‘John John’ celebrates win in Bodden Town East
11:48 pm update: Twyla Vargas, campaign manager for Dwayne “John John” Seymour, said his election was a victory for the candidate and for Bodden Town. Mr. Seymour won in Bodden Town East.
“Everybody’s worked hard for this,” she said, pointing to the celebration scenes around her. “Everybody that he had worked hard for this and we are so excited, we’re not going to sleep tonight.”
She said she had thoroughly enjoyed the campaign. “Let me tell you something, I came out of my sick bed and I’m still celebrating.”
McTaggart describes mixed atmosphere at Progressives headquarters
11:40 pm update: George Town East candidate Roy McTaggart expressed excitement for his win for the Progressives party tonight.
“I am overjoyed with the support and the vote of confidence shown by the voters in George Town East for my candidacy by electing me with this wide margin that they did. Clearly they got the right person for the job.”
He described a mixed atmosphere at the Progressives headquarters as results come in. The night has brought victories and disappointments for the party.
“It’s quite happy here. Everyone is smiling. There are a few disappointments. We understand Osbourne [Bodden] didn’t make it in. That is unfortunate. But still, there are other candidates out there that are doing quite well. We’re still waiting to hear now from Newlands. The real cliff hanger here is what happens in George Town Central.”
Independents take the lead
11:35 pm update: A total of 17 seats in the next Legislative Assembly have been decided as of 11:20 p.m. Wednesday.
Nine seats went to independents Ezzard Miller, Arden McLean, Anthony Eden, Austin Harris, Chris Saunders, Kenneth Bryan, Alva Suckoo and Dwayne Seymour. Tara Rivers, an independent allied with the Progressives, has also been declared the winner in West Bay South.
Five were won by the Progressives: Moses Kirkconnell, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Joey Hew, Roy McTaggart and Alden McLaughlin.
Three have been declared for the Cayman Democratic Party: McKeeva Bush, Bernie Bush and Capt. Eugene Ebanks.
Two seats were left to be claimed. It was uncertain who would win hotly contested districts in George Town West and George Town South.
Hew celebrates decisive victory
11:30 pm update: Joey Hew celebrated a decisive victory in George Town North on Wednesday night, and he said he couldn’t have done it without the support of his family, friends and hard-working supporters.
Mr. Hew, who took 402 votes and beat his next closest competitor by 134 votes, wanted to send out a note of congratulations to both Pearlina McGaw-Lumsden and Karin Thompson.
“It’s been a long day and an interesting campaign,” he said. “Congratulations to my other two opponents who were brave enough to put themselves forward. It was a very clean campaign prior to today. We look forward to making this country a better place, and that’s why we all went into this race.”
Mr. Hew was disappointed about a few unproven allegations on social media that targeted both himself and his family, and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service put out a press release early in the day calling the allegations spurious. Mr. Hew, in the end, was proud to be vindicated by the voting.
“There was a lot of mischief today,” he said. “It was very hurtful for myself and my family. Everyone is exposed to that. There are people that love to hide behind social media and make these accusations wildly. I say to them, ‘Just think about your own kids one day.’ They may feel the effects of that.”
Results as of 12:30 am (100% counted)
Bodden Town East (100% counted): Independent Dwayne Stanley “John John” Seymour finished with 427 votes over CDP candidate Robert Anthony Bodden (367). Osbourne Vendryes Bodden (Progressives) had 290 and Arnold Thomas Berry has 41.
Bodden Town West (100% counted): Independent Christopher Selvin Saunders won with 380 votes over Progressives candidate Maxine Jolevet Bodden-Robinson (306 votes); CDP’s Stafford Berry (217); and Gilbert Allan McLean (187).
West Bay North (100% counted): CDP candidate Bernie Alfredo Bush won with 436 votes over independent Mervin Jonathon Smith (269 votes); and independent Sarah Louise Orrett-Ebanks (99).
West Bay West (100% counted): CDP candidate William McKeeva Bush won with 605 votes over independent Paul Desmond Rivers (176 votes) and Daphne Louise Orrett (68).
West Bay South (100% counted): Independent candidate Tara Antoinette Rivers won West Bay South with 534 votes over CDP candidate John Dwight Jefferson (350 votes), Burns Rankin (56), and Laura Revon Young (52).
Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman (100% counted): Moses Kirkconnell III finished with 302 votes compared to Maxine Avon Moore’s 95 votes.
George Town North (100% counted): Progressives candidate Joseph Xavier Hew won the district with 402 votes. CDP candidate Pearlina McGaw-Lumsden finished second with 268 and independent Karin M. Thompson had 117.
Prospect (100% counted): Independent candidate Austin Osmond Harris, Jr. won with 466 votes over Progressives candidate Lucille Dell Seymour (329 votes) and Independent Matthew Tyrone Leslie (58).
Red Bay (100% counted): Progressives candidate Alden McLaughlin won re-election with 478 votes over Denniston Leitch Tibbetts (274 votes) and independent candidate Dr. Frank Swarres McField (92).
George Town Central (100% counted): Independent candidate Kenneth Vernon Bryan won with 495 votes to incumbent Marco Shearer Archer’s 460.
East End (100% counted): Independent candidate V. Arden McLean was re-elected with 272 votes. Independent candidates Isaac Douglas Rankine and John Bonwell McLean, Jr. had 246 and 74 votes, respectively.
George Town West (100% counted): Progressives candidate David Charles Wight won the electoral district with 350 votes. CDP candidate Jonathan Bardowell Piercy had 334; independent candidate Dennie Erling Warren, Jr., 80, and independent candidate Ellio Anthony Solomon, 93.
George Town South (100% counted): Progressives candidate Barbara Elizabeth Conolly won the district with 375 votes over Mike Adam (307 votes); Paul Wendell Hurlston (72); Alric Jeremy Lindsay (90); and Catherine Rosita Tyson (78).
Savannah (100% counted): Independent candidate Anthony Samuel Eden won the district with 446 votes. Progressives candidate Heather Dianne Bodden finished with 357 votes and Kent Ashton McTaggart took 164 votes.
North Side (100% counted): Independent candidate Ezzard Denison Miller was re-elected with 201 votes over Johany “Jay” Ebanks (179 votes), Edward Owen Chisholm (139) and Justin Craig Ebanks (75).
Newlands (100% counted): Independent candidate Alva Horatio Suckoo (433 votes) beat incumbent legislator and Progressives candidate Gurney Wayne Panton (418). Independent candidate Raul Gonzalez, Jr. finished third (156).
Cayman Brac East (100% counted): Progressives candidate Juliana O’Connor-Connolly was re-elected (225 votes) over challenger Rudolph Lenbergh Dixon (183 votes).
West Bay Central (100% counted): CDP candidate Capt. Eugene Ebanks’s 435 votes return him to the Legislature over challenger Katherine Ebanks-Wilks (342 votes).
George Town East (100% counted): Progressives candidate Roy Michael McTaggart won with 410 votes over CDP candidate Theresa Elizabeth Bodden (193 votes), Sharon Elaine Roulstone (192), and Dr. Kenrick Herbert Webster (106).
Roy McTaggart wins George Town East
10:30 pm update: Progressives candidate Roy Michael McTaggart won George Town East with 410 votes.
Theresa Elizabeth Bodden finished a distant second with 193 votes.
Candidates Sharon Elaine Roulstone and Dr. Kenrick Herbert Webster finished with 192 and 106 votes, respectively.
Close race in central GT
10:20 pm update: A very close race in George Town Central with roughly a third of the votes counted has Minister Marco Archer neck-and-neck with challenger Kenneth Bryan.
As of 10:20 p.m. Mr. Bryan had a slight 13 vote lead over Mr. Archer with about 36 percent of the votes counted.
Joey Hew wins reelection in George Town North
10:05 pm update: The results are in for George Town North, with an election official declaring the incumbent Progressives candidate Joey Hew the winner, with 402 votes.
Pearlina McGaw-Lumsden, running with the Cayman Democratic Party, got 268 votes and independent candidate Karin Thompson received 117 votes.
Incumbents win in West Bay, Sister Islands, East End
9:50 p.m. update: Election officials have declared several incumbent lawmakers as winners in their single-member districts, including McKeeva Bush in West Bay West, Ezzard Miller in North Side and Arden McLean in East End.
Progressives candidate Moses Kirkconnell has also been officially declared the winner in Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman.
Mr. Bush is the leader of the Cayman Democratic Party. It appears two other CDP candidates, Bernie Bush and Capt. Eugene Ebanks, are out to strong leads in West Bay North and West Bay Central.
Mr. Miller and Mr. McLean are independents candidates.
Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell said Mr. Miller and Mr. McLean were confirmed as the winners this evening, although he did not have specific vote counts. It appears that in some districts, the vote totals from the Elections Office are lagging far behind announcements being made at polling stations.
From Progressives’ headquarters: Barbara Conolly & Marco Archer
9 pm update: The Cayman Compass caught up with Progressives’ George Town candidates Marco Archer and Barbara Conolly at the party’s headquarters as the count began just after 7 p.m.
Ms. Conolly said she was feeling positive both for herself and the party. “We were hoping to get at least five or six in George Town. Of course we would love to get seven. That would be very optimistic but that is what we are rooting for.”
She added that she felt a high turnout in her constituency and nationally was good for the Progressives. She plans to be at John Gray High School to hear the result come in for George Town South.
Finance Minister Marco Archer said he was satisfied with the way he had conducted the election and with the voter turnout.
“It was a new dispensation, and overall I think it went well.”
When the votes come in, he may not be there to hear them. Mr. Archer will attend a specially arranged service at Elmslie Memorial United Church from 10.30 p.m. “The results will take care of itself. God has already decided the results. I am going to church to give thanks to God,” he said.
Moses Kirkconnell likely to win Cayman Brac West
It appears Moses Kirkconnell will win his home district of Cayman Brac West.
With 56 percent of the votes counted, Mr. Kirkconnell had 167 votes to his opponent Maxine Moore’s 62 votes.
Mr. Kirkconnell will be serving his fourth term in the Legislative Assembly if the current results hold.
First ballots counted
Six postal ballots have been counted in the Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman electoral district.
Four of those went to Moses Kirkconnell and two were for Maxine Moore.
A total of 407 votes were cast in the district, including mobile and postal ballots.
These are the first results of the night.
Moses Kirkconnell was Minister of District Administration, Tourism & Transport for the 2013-2017 Legislative Assembly.
Final turnout 74.8%
6:55 pm update: Final voter turnout was 74.8%, according to Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell. The figure includes mobile and postal ballots.
Mr. Howell said 15,867 voters cast a ballot in this year’s General Election, out of 21,212 eligible electors.
Turnout was 79.82 percent in the May 2013 election.
2017 election turnout
- West Bay West: 69.80%
- West Bay North: 72.01%
- West Bay Central: 73.89%
- West Bay South: 75.28%
- George Town North: 69.24%
- George Town Central: 76.99%
- George Town West: 70.31%
- George Town South: 77.13%
- George Town East: 71.54%
- Red Bay: 72.43%
- Prospect: 73.45%
- Newlands: 80.89%
- Savannah: 73.20%
- Bodden Town West: 76.37%
- Bodden Town East: 74.93%
- North Side: 83.78%
- East End: 85.98%
- Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman: 70.54%
- Cayman Brac East: 84.50%
Polling stations close with turnout slightly lower than normal
6:05 pm update: Polling stations in the Cayman Islands are now closed, but Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell says that any potential voters who are within the 300 foot “exclusion zone” as of 6 p.m. in their respective polling station should be allowed to cast their ballot.
Elections officials are reporting a lower-than-expected voter turnout for the 2017 general election. The final numbers were expected to come in somewhere around 75 percent of the 21,228 registered voters in the Cayman Islands. Typically, local elections average in the upper 70 percent to low 80 percent range.
As of 5 p.m., 15,452 people had voted, or 72.85 percent of eligible voters. The highest turnout district, Cayman Brac East voted at 81 percent while the lowest turnout was in neighboring Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman at 66 percent.
“It’s a new system, we feel that there has been a pretty decent voter turnout, it’s not the highest voter turnout but it’s still within a good range,” Deputy Elections Supervisor Suzanne Bothwell said Wednesday afternoon.
Mr. Howell responded Wednesday afternoon to apparently bogus claims that some ballot boxes containing mobile and postal ballots going missing. Mr. Howell said that’s just not true.
He said he got a request from one candidate to escort a box containing postal ballots which would be irregular and Mr. Howell said he declined this request. The story from there apparently spiraled out of control, but Mr. Howell said there is no truth to any such rumors about ballot boxes going missing.
Police escort inmates to polling stations
5 pm update: Thirteen prisoners from Her Majesty’s Prison Northward voted under police escort in their respective electoral districts across Grand Cayman.
Royal Cayman Islands Police Service spokeswoman Jacqueline Carpenter said more Northward inmates may have been eligible to vote, but only 13 chose to exercise the right.
No one in custody at the police detention center at Fairbanks was eligible to vote, she said.
Turnout nears 70%
4:50 pm update : As of 4 p.m., 14,455 votes had been cast, according to the latest hourly update by the Elections Office. The figure includes mobile and postal ballots.
That means 68.15 percent of eligible voters have cast a ballot so far, with polls closing at 6 p.m.
Cayman Brac East leads the islands in voter turnout with 78.51 percent.
North Side and George Town Central were next with 73.43 percent and 72.21 percent, respectively.
The lowest turnout so far belongs to George Town North, with 62.91 percent.
Total votes surpass 13,700
4:30 pm update: As of 3 p.m., 13,731 votes had been cast, according to the latest hourly update by the Elections Office. The figure includes mobile and postal ballots.
That means 64.73 percent of Cayman’s 21,212 eligible voters have cast a ballot so far.
Polls close at 6 p.m.
Turnout was 79.82 percent in the May 2013 election.
Robert Bodden sees ‘steady pace, steady flow’
3:50 pm update: Robert Bodden, who is running as a Cayman Democratic Party candidate in Bodden Town East, spoke to our reporter this afternoon outside the polling station at Bodden Town Primary School.
He described the turnout of voters in the district as going at a “steady pace, a steady flow.”
“We’ll have to wait and see who the winner. Everyone is hoping for that victory,” he said, as he gave a hearty thumbs up.
Nearly 13,000 people have voted so far
3:35 pm update: Just short of 13,000 people had cast a ballot by 2 p.m., including 1,315 mobile and postal ballots.
11,634 people have voted today at polling stations.
The webpage for the Elections Office’s hourly voter turnout numbers stopped working. The new website can be found here.
Polls close at 6 p.m.
Reminder: Today is a ‘dry day’
3:20 pm update: The bar entrance to Over the Edge Cafe in North Side is locked because of Election Day, but customers are invited to enter the restaurant area via the seaside deck.
Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell previously described May 24 as “a dry day” for liquor.
12,000 people have voted so far
2:25 pm update: By 1 p.m. today, with five hours left before polls closed, an even 12,000 of Cayman’s voters had cast their votes. That’s 56.57 percent of the electorate.
According to the Elections Office, 16 voters have passed away in recent weeks, meaning there are 21,212 eligible voters in the Cayman Islands.
Howell urges voters not to ‘wait till last minute’
2:20 pm update: Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell is urging voters to come out to the polls as soon as possible.
The polling stations will be open until 6 p.m. this evening, but Mr. Howell is asking voters to join the many voters who have already cast their ballots, saying: “I urge the voters to vote early and not wait till the last minute.”
In an early afternoon press release, Mr. Howell reported a steady stream of voters at the 19 polling stations on the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Howell also urged voters to check their names and polling locations in the registry on the Elections Office website www.elections.ky.
“Finally, while this has been repeated, I ask voters to be mindful of casting only one vote in our new One Person, One Vote system that came into force during this General Elections,” Mr. Howell added.
He said that there had been a few instances of canvassing beyond midnight and several reports of canvassing within the 300 feet boundary today by candidate agents, he stated.
“All reports are being looked into by the RCIPS,” he added.
Update: 2:05 p.m.
We spoke with candidates Joseph Hew and Marco Archer, and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson about the election so far.
Update: 1:55 p.m.
Several of the candidates in Wednesday’s election have indicated that their constituents have misgivings about the new electoral system in Cayman. The new system, which gives one vote to every voter in their respective voting districts, has struck some people as an abridgement of their voting rights.
Marco Archer, who’s running in George Town Central, said his constituents prefer the old system.
“Some of them are a bit dissatisfied. They wish it had not changed,” he said.
“Therefore, over the next four years, we’ll have to see what the people really think. If there are sufficient people who think it’s not what they wanted, the Constitution provides for the people to speak in such a way.”
Jonathan Bardowell Piercy, a candidate in George Town West, said that the vagaries of how districts were drawn leaves people uncertain of how to use their vote. He said that some people on one side of the street vote in a different district than their neighbors on the other side of the street.
Update: 1:45 p.m.
We caught up with independent candidate for Savannah Kent McTaggart as he went to vote in Red Bay.
He said he was feeling good about the election, having campaigned hard without party or private financial support for months.
Mr. McTaggart said he was happy with the way the Elections Office was running the election.
“The systems are robust. I am extremely at ease. I will go down there and be present for the count but other than that I am going to enjoy the time with the family because it has been two and change months for them without me.”
With the campaigning over, he said, he could relax a little bit and wait for the results.
“I had coffee and pancakes this morning and I got the ‘honey do’ list sitting waiting for me,” he added.
He said he was happy that the One Man, One Vote system had brought parity of voting power but was not convinced that single member constituencies were the best way to go.
“I think this is a fantastic first step. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. I think the fact that every voter has the same influence on the make-up of our legislative body is a definite plus.”
Update: 1:35 p.m.
There was no sign of Premier Alden McLaughlin by midday, either at his constituency in Red Bay or at the Progressives headquarters in George Town, where the candidates are coming in and out throughout the day and support staff are monitoring voter turnout numbers.
Barbara Conolly, a former general secretary of the Progressives, running this time as a candidate, was helping organize things at head office.
She said party staff would be out and about helping people get to the polls if they had mobility issues and making sure people went to vote – no matter who they voted for.
Update: 1:30 p.m.
Progressives candidate Wayne Panton said he anticipated a close contest in Newlands but that the day had gone well.
“It seems things having been going smoothly. I haven’t heard of any significant issues. I’m very pleased the weather is good today. There is no reason why people shouldn’t be able to get out and participate in the democratic process. So far it seems like they’re doing that and things are going well,” he said.
Update: 1:20 p.m.
Alva Suckoo, independent candidate for Newlands, voted this morning at Savannah.
He said he was feeling confident and “getting good feedback.”
“I’m seeing a lot of smiling faces when I go to the polls, trying not to have any conversations with people. But I can tell from the looks that a lot of people are supporting me. At this point, it’s up to the people and God.”
Update: 1:20 p.m.
Police have moved to clear up a persistent social media rumor doing the rounds today, with an unequivocal denial that any candidate has been arrested.
“We can categorically state that no candidate or any other person has been arrested today in connection with any election offences, or is under house arrest. Such reports are spurious and baseless,” according to a statement from the Royal Cayman Police Service.
“A team of detectives are available to address any election complaints received today, and conduct enquiries as needed,” police said.
Update: 12:55 p.m.
By noon today, more than half of Cayman’s electorate had cast their votes.
According to the latest figures from the Elections Office, 51.85 percent of Cayman’s 21,228 voters had made their election choices.
Of the 9,897 people who have cast their ballots, 8,582 had visited polling stations during the morning. The remainder had voted via postal or mobile ballots.
Update: 12:35 p.m.
Sharon Roulstone elected to wait until the afternoon to place her vote on Wednesday, and she spent the morning checking on her polling agents. Ms. Roulstone, a candidate in George Town East who is voting in George Town West, said she’ll be happy with the election results no matter who wins.
“I’m optimistic. I’m not presumptuous, but I’m always an optimist,” she said.
“I’m not going to be thinking badly, but it’s been tough. It’s a bad day to be asking these questions because we’re on our last legs. But it’s exciting because the end is in sight. We have that adrenaline to just keep going.”
Jonathan Bardowell Piercy, a candidate in George Town West, can feel that same adrenaline. Mr. Piercy said he went to sleep at around 2 a.m. and woke up at 6 a.m. to vote early in George Town Central.
“I’m excited. Very excited,” said Mr. Piercy of his emotional state at mid-day on Election Day.
“I think today represents change. It’s a new beginning for many individuals, and it’s a lot of hope in the hearts of many people. They want to see something different. They believe that something must change.”
Mr. Piercy said he expected a voter turnout greater than 80 percent, but he stressed that he hadn’t heard anything about the morning vote totals. For now, all he knows is his vote and his hope.
“I’m confident, but I don’t want to be overly confident,” he said.
“It’s a race of four people including myself in George Town West, and people are out there exercising their democratic right. In the end, what is to be will be. What is to be must be. We wait and see what happens after the polls close at 6.”
Update: 12:05 p.m.
One Man, One Vote, zero problem
East End and North Side have been single-member since 1959
The concept of one person, one vote presents no problem for the voters in East End and North Side. Their districts have been single-member constituencies since 1959.
Except for the two electoral districts covering Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, East End and North Side have the smallest numbers of registered voters — 692 and 716 respectively.
All other 15 constituencies have voter populations of over 1,000.
Coincidentally, the voting stations in East End and North Side are named after the men who were their first elected sole Members of the Legislative Assembly — Craddock Ebanks in North Side and William Allen McLaughlin in East End.
The East End polling place is not visible from the main road, John McLean Drive, and the 300-foot exclusion zone starts at the edge of the driveway to the William Allen McLaughlin Civic Centre. Police Sergeant Davis Scott has allowed parking on the access road because, as he pointed out, before the road curves there is a gate to control traffic into the civic center compound.
This arrangement also keeps the thoroughfare clear.
Officer Davis reported voters turning out steadily and in good numbers. Asked if there had been any problems, he replied, “No. It’s been very quiet.”
Update: 11:55 a.m.
Within three hours of Cayman’s polling stations opening, more than a third of voters had cast their ballots.
As of 10 a.m. this morning, 36.47 percent of the electorate had turned out at polling stations to vote, or had voted earlier by postal or mobile ballots.
A total of 5,647 people had attended polling stations at the 19 constituencies throughout the Cayman Islands; 533 had cast their votes by postal ballot and 733 voted by mobile ballot, according to the Elections Office, which is issuing voter turnout updates hourly.
Update: 11:52 a.m.
Dennie Warren Jr. is at peace with his campaign and hoping for a restful yet eventful day.
Mr. Warren, a candidate in the George Town West district, was at the polling station bright and early Wednesday morning and voted in the first hour of the election.
He said that he didn’t get any sleep last night and that he’ll spend the day away from the action.
“I’m consciously staying away from the polls as much as I can,” he said in a brief phone conversation.
“I know some people feel uneasy by it and I don’t want to make anyone feel that way. I just stay away.”
Mr. Warren said he’ll get some rest and that he’ll make sure that his polling agents have something to eat and drink. But otherwise, he’ll spend the rest of Election Day just like his voters.
“I’m just going to wait until the numbers roll in,” he said.
“I might make a cup of tea and relax and hopefully get a call to come down to the polling station.”
Update: 11:50 a.m.
Arnold Berry, independent candidate for Bodden Town East, said he attended the polling station in his district around 6.30 a.m., where people were already lining up to vote, half an hour before the polls opened.
“After that, there has been a steady flow of people voting and it seems that way even now at about 10.30 a.m. I think that today in Bodden Town, it’s going to go good.
“I wish the best for all of us but there’s only one winner, and at the end of the day, I think that whatever the decision is, I’m man enough to abide by that and thank the people of Bodden Town who voted for me.”
Update: 11:35 a.m.
Sarah Orrett-Ebanks, independent candidate in West Bay North, says she is confident that after her “clean” campaign geared toward independent rather that party thinking, voters got the message and “are enthusiastic about change.”
West Bay North is very different from South Sound and even West Bay South, she noted. “We have a different set of problems.” Those problems require candidates with a different skill-set, she said.
Independent candidate for West Bay Central, Katherine Ebanks-Wilks: “I think that today is definitely the beginning of change. All of my constituents have a choice and I am looking forward to see who the people select. We let the people speak. But I am happy and excited and it has been a great journey.”
The campaign itself has been a growing experience, going through the constituency and spending eight hours a day visiting people, she said. “It really inspired me to focus on bringing forth change.”
Update: 10:45 a.m.
Marco Archer wishes he had more time. Mr. Archer, a candidate in George Town Central, said Wednesday morning that he would’ve liked more opportunities to get his message across.
“We only got out of the parliament in the last days of March,” he said. “But I think it went very well nonetheless.”
Mr. Archer, who cast his own vote in the George Town North district, said he perceived a good turnout Wednesday morning and that the voting process went off very smooth with no hitches or holdups.
“I think it’s wonderful that we can have a peaceful electoral process where we’re able to participate in the election and the selection of our government,” he said. “It’s going well today. My hope is that it will continue that way and we’ll have reason to celebrate this evening when the votes are announced.”
Joey Hew was all business Wednesday morning, and the candidate for George Town North nearly drove away before meeting with the media in the exclusion zone. But when an enterprising reporter called his name, Mr. Hew got in his car, drove it 30 feet and re-parked for the express purpose of an interview.
“I’m pretty relaxed today,” he said. “I think we’ve done our work over the last four years. I think people are pretty happy with us. And God willing, if they agree with me, we’ll be victorious today.”
Mr. Hew found it hard to gauge the turnout, but he said that it had been steady all morning. He also said that national averages for Cayman elections have yielded nearly an 80 percent turnout and that he expected to see the same on Wednesday. But no matter what happened, Mr. Hew was at peace.
“It takes a lot for any person to put themselves forward, and so I don’t take any of my opponents for granted and I respect both of them,” he said. “I wish them all the luck and may the best person win.”
Matthew Leslie is just thankful for all the people who have helped him along the way.
Mr. Leslie, a candidate in Prospect, cast his vote Wednesday morning in George Town North, and he said he was appreciative of all the people who helped him in ways both large and small.
“I’m very grateful for the volunteers,” he said. “It’s not like America where we have massive budgets to take on all the staff you want. You have to take on volunteers and you have to work on their time.
My campaign had a good size of volunteers and I really appreciate them going door to door with me.”
Mr. Leslie said he was satisfied with his campaign and confident heading into the day, and he said he hoped that the people in his district would consider the past when casting their ballot.
Update: 10:30 a.m.
Roy McTaggart placed his vote early Wednesday morning and seemed excited about the end of the campaign season. Mr. McTaggart, who’s running in George Town East, placed his vote in George Town North and said that the process was “dead simple” and that he was in and out in 60 seconds.
Cayman citizens tend to vote early, said Mr. McTaggart, and the afternoon could be quiet as the candidates wait for the votes to be tallied. The final day of the campaign brought a rally of about 600 people to Kirk Plaza for Mr. McTaggart, and he was hoping to have made a lasting impression.
“I don’t want to sound as if I’m campaigning in any way, but I’m just wishing everybody a very safe Election Day. I hope to get the public out to do their civic duty and cast their vote,” he said.
Update: 10:25 a.m.
Karin Thompson strode through the gates of George Town Primary School bright and early on Wednesday morning, and she greeted a line of voters queued up to make their selection.
Ms. Thompson, running for the first time on her own ticket, said that she has lived in George Town North for 40 years and that she has been involved in politics since 1976. But now, awake on only ninety minutes’ sleep, she was happy for the end of the campaign and hopeful about the ballots.
“I’d like to say excited, but the truth is instead of being excited, I have a sense of fulfillment, a sense of self-satisfaction,” she said shortly before the polls opened. “As I look through the gate at all those voters, irrespective of who they’re voting for, they’ve come to vote. And they have a choice of three.”
Update: 10:15 a.m.
At George Town Central, independent candidate Kenneth Bryan was out greeting voters as they made their way to the town hall to vote.
A line of people snaked around the side of the building and Mr. Bryan estimated around 150 people had been out to vote before 9 a.m.
He said, “I am feeling positive. The set up went smooth. My agent is out and there is a lot of smiling faces coming in and out of the polls so I’m happy about that.
“I feel confident. It is just a matter of time now and making sure we supervise the process. We have people out getting people to the polls if they need assistance.”
Mr. Bryan said he would be voting later in the morning at George Town East.
Update: 9:40 a.m.
Progressives candidate Barbara Conolly voted in George Town East. She is running in George Town South.
She observed a long line at the George Town South polling station but said there was no line at the George Town East location.
On the outcome of One Man, One Vote, she said, “It’s to be determined. But I feel One Man, One Vote is a good system in that it supports accountability between the MLA and the constituents.”
She said the system has made it more manageable for candidates to reach voters.
With the new system, she said some voters who are not excited about the candidates in their constituency may not turn out.
Update: 9:30 a.m.
Update: 9:15 a.m.
Voters and candidates turned out first thing in the morning in West Bay’s voting districts.
John Jefferson Jr. a candidate for the Cayman Democratic Party in West Bay South feels very confident about his party’s prospects in this election. Come 10 o’ clock tonight, he said, “we’ll have reason to celebrate.”
He said the advantage of the new voting system, which divides West Bay into four voting districts, is that it makes very clear which area a candidate is responsible for.
Cayman Democratic Party leader McKeeva Bush was one of the first to cast his vote in West Bay West. He said he is “very confident,” of the election outcome, especially after last night’s rally in George Town and the last district meetings. “They have been well attended. People are very interested.” Asked what would be a success for him in terms of seats won in today’s election, Mr. Bush said: “Eleven.”
Here is a gallery of the Election Day action so far.
Update: 9 a.m.
Update: 8:55 a.m.
Update: 8:50 a.m.
North Side’s early problem is parking
Police officers assist at exclusion zone
Andy McCoy lives just a few houses away from the Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre in North Side, so it was no problem for him to walk over early Wednesday morning to cast his ballot in Cayman’s 2017 General Elections.
Other voters, who drove to the polling station, were met at the driveway entrance with an apologetic smile and a polite suggestion that they park further along the road and walk in.
The edge of the driveway was determined to be the boundary for the mandatory 300-foot exclusion zone.
Drivers accepted the advice good-naturedly, parked and walked back.
Police Constables Elizabeth McIntosh and Nasir Ramzan were the officers stationed at the boundary.
PC McIntosh expressed concern for elderly voters who might have difficulty making the trek, which is on a slight incline. She contacted election officials inside the polling station and came back satisfied with the proffered solution:
If there is any person who cannot walk up to the civic center, the presiding officer is to be notified and she will send someone down to escort them in.
While Mr. McCoy was the first person to approach the exclusion zone, others began arriving at a steady pace, usually two people per car. The police officers received word at 7 a.m. to allow voters through and in the first five minutes, 22 people had begun their walk to the polls.
Before 6:30 a.m. candidates and/or their agents were already inside where they could watch the presiding officer go through preliminary procedures followed in all 19 electoral districts. They included exhibiting the empty ballot box to all observers and then locking it with a padlock for which the presiding officer holds the key. A second lock, in the form of a uniquely numbered single-use metal strip, was also attached.
Finally, a plasticized tape seal was placed over the edge of the lid onto the body of the ballot box. Anyone present could sign that seal as witness to the integrity of the process.
Voting continues until 6 p.m.
Update: 8:40 a.m.
Elections Office staff and volunteers had a very early start on Election Day, convening before the crack of dawn in order to deploy ballot boxes and other materials to Cayman’s polling stations.
Here is a news release from GIS describing the activity:
Elections staff deployed with clockwork precision starting from 4 am this morning (Wednesday, 24 May 2017). The poll staff along with all logistical staff loaded up the empty ballot boxes along with all the necessary paraphernalia on to individual vans and deployed to the 17 polling stations on Grand Cayman, with those going to North Side and East End moving out first.
Also present at the Elections Office on Smith Road were local poll observers Mr. Jennison Nunez, Mr. Renard Moxam and Mr. Eldon Whittaker who were ready to start their visits of all the polling stations during the entire day of voting all around Grand Cayman to observe and report to the Supervisor of Elections.
At the Government Administration Building, the Elections Command Centre, the tech rooms and the Media Centre were also open and manned from 4 am for the 7 am start of polling.
“I am very pleased at the roll out – everything is going smoothly as planned and organized,” commented Supervisor of Elections, Mr. Wesley Howell.
Chris Duggan and his team of special constables are out on patrol making sure campaign signs are down, keeping an eye out for other law and order offenses and helping ensure the election runs smoothly.
George Town South candidate Alric Lindsay said One Man, One Vote was confusing and could lead to surprises for voters:
“I think it was confusing. As a candidate I had to explain to different people who are in different districts.
“I think it was an educational experience but a confusing experience for some people. I think there could be improvements to the system, including the way the boundary lines are drawn.
“There are many people who want to sit and talk about different views and who their candidate is. But when the boundary line divides the community physically, then it reduces that chance to have conversation.”
On the other hand, independent George Town South candidate Paul Hurlston had positive remarks about the new voting system:
“So far from what I’ve seen, the participation has been really great. I think One Man, One Vote will give people more power. They can hold [government] accountable. … I am really pleased with it.”
He expected turn out to be high, around 80 or 90 percent.
Tara Rivers, independent candidate in West Bay South, who attended the polling station before it opened said there was a great turnout of voters early. “This is a good sign.”
Ms. Rivers’s campaign has been really encouraging and positive, she said.
And now she is looking forward to free and fair elections and a smooth process.
“I just hope that we continue to be civil, no matter the outcome. We still have to live together as a community and we have to keep that in perspective.”
At the Red Bay polling station scores of people were out early to vote. The car park at Red Bay Primary School was full and by 7:30 more than 50 people had already cast a vote.
Cayman Democratic Party candidate Denniston Tibbetts was out front greeting voters early, while Roy Tatum, agent for premier Alden McLaughlin, was among those casting their votes.
Paul Watler was among a small crowd of voters there when the polls opened at 7 a.m. He said the process had gone smoothly and he felt the new system was simpler and fairer.
Voting process should take three minutes, clerk to ballot box
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.
Don’t have a voter ID? This is how you can still vote
Voter identification cards for more than 21,000 electors were to be distributed by the Cayman Islands Elections Office during the first few weeks of May, and Friday, May 19, is the very last day to pick one up.
However, the cards are not strictly necessary for a registered voter to cast their ballot on May 24.
Local law requires the Elections Office to issue ID cards. The cards are used at the polling station to vote, but other forms of ID can be used as well.
Rules you need to know for Election Day
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.
Government, as the word is typically used, refers to the people who have responsibility for formulating policies and directing how those policies should be implemented.
In fact, these policymakers form just one branch of Cayman’s government, the Executive. It consists of the governor, as the representative of Her Majesty the Queen; and Cabinet, which is comprised of the premier (sometimes referred to as the chief minister) and six other ministers plus the deputy governor and the attorney general.
There are two other branches of government – the Legislature, which makes the country’s laws; and the Judiciary, which interprets and applies the laws.
After the general election on May 24, the 19 individuals elected as Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) will have a role in the formation of a government – that is, in determining which of them will be the Cabinet ministers.