The Legislative Assembly building in George Town.

Local legislators are a week away from debating the provisions of the Referendum Bill that will set the stage for the first people-initiated vote in the Cayman Islands.

The draft law allows for electors to have their say on government’s $200 million cruise berthing and cargo project, and outlines the process for conducting the polls on 19 Dec.
The next session of the Legislative Assembly is set to formally open on 28 Oct. at 10am.

Last week, Governor Martyn Roper issued the proclamation for the ceremonial start of the upcoming sitting of the legislature.

According to government officials, the only item that will be listed for House business is the Referendum Bill.

The national budget is set to be tabled in the subsequent sitting of the Legislative Assembly, which is expected to be announced later this week.

Referendum Day voting
The 1 Oct. electors’ list, consisting of 21,217 voters, will be used for the referendum on 19 Dec.
Polling stations are set to open from 7am-6pm across all three islands.

On 19 Dec., eligible voters will be casting their ballots at the same polling stations they would have used in the 2017 general election. However, under the proposed bill the procedure for ballot counting will differ from that election.

Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell explained that government has proposed a national count, which means all ballot boxes will be taken to one secure location for tallying by Election Office staff.

“But that is still up for debate. Everything in the bill is subject to debate,” he said.
While that may be so, Howell said, the Elections Office is continuing with its logistics planning for 19 Dec.
He declined to go into specifics on how the count will be executed since that is subject to change.

As it stands, when the polls close, the ballot boxes will be transported to the location where the national count will be held, Howell said.

“The ballots will be in full view of the observers from the time the polls open, when the boxes are shown empty and secured, until the ballot boxes are opened for the count,” he said. “When the ballot boxes move from the polling station to the counting station, the observers will travel with the box alongside Elections Office staff under police escort.”

He added that inside the counting room the ballots will be mixed and the votes cast will be tallied.

“The count will be done behind closed doors. It will not be open to the public. The government, [international] observers and CPR Cayman will be there for the count,” Howell said.

Updated voters list released
On Monday, the Elections Office released its proposed 1 Jan. electors list for public review. In a statement, the Elections Office said 220 voters were added to the electors’ roll, but they are only eligible to vote after 1 Jan., so cannot participate in the referendum.

The Elections Office said 54 ineligible voters were removed from the previous list, which includes 45 registered voters who have died since 2 July 2019. However, those changes will only be reflected in the new list.

“Once the current revised list is finalised on 9 Dec., or earlier if there are no claims or objections, the revised list is reviewed and signed off by the Chief Magistrate, and will become the Official List of Electors on 1 January 2020. This list will then remain in effect and unchanged until 31 March 2020,” the Elections Office said in a statement.

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