Even with litigation looming over the 19 Dec. referendum, Elections Office staff continue to operate business as usual, receiving and sending postal ballots for the port vote.
As of Wednesday evening, a total of 280 postal ballots have been issued for the referendum on government’s $200 million cruise berthing and cargo project.
Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell declined to comment on the National Trust’s application to seek judicial review on the referendum, but he did tell the Cayman Compass there is a question mark over the votes already cast.
“It is uncertain what impact the legal proceedings filed by the National Trust will have on the votes for persons who have already voted in the referendum,” he said.
However, he assured all ballots received for the vote will be kept safely.
“As per the Elections Law, completed postal ballots that are returned to the Elections Office are stored securely in their covering envelope, in secured postal ballot boxes until the close of the polls when the postal ballots are processed for counting,” Howell said.
Postal ballot and mobile voting applications are only valid for one election or referendum.
The National Trust this week initiated the legal action over government’s decision to proceed with a referendum before an updated environmental impact assessment is complete. It is seeking a stay to delay the referendum.
Cruise Port Referendum Cayman member Shirley Roulstone has filed an application for a protective costs order, which would shield her from paying excessive legal costs if an eventual judicial review fails.
Hearings in both cases are anticipated next week, though it is not clear if either will be in open court.
Premier Alden McLaughlin, speaking in Finance Committee this week, said the legal actions have left the referendum in “grave uncertainty”.
Howell, in a statement issued by his office Thursday, said voting in the people-initiated referendum started on 8 Nov.
“The Elections Office continues to receive postal ballot applications, issue postal ballots and receive sealed postal ballot envelopes from voters in return at this time,” he said.
The statement said just under 30% of the postal ballots issued have been returned, with the Elections Office receiving 81 sealed postal ballot envelopes to date.
“In keeping with legal requirements, the Elections Office issued the first batch of postal ballots on 8 Nov., seven days after the notice of referendum was published in the gazette,” the statement said.
The deadline for mobile and postal voting applications is 7 Dec.
Voters on Little Cayman who are registered to vote in the electoral district of Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman are encouraged to apply for mobile voting and to vote on 12 Dec. at the Public Works Building in Little Cayman from 9am to 1pm, according to the statement.
The Elections Office said individuals who applied for postal or mobile voting in the 2017 general election and who wish to vote by either method in the referendum still need to complete and submit the necessary application form.
The applications can be found on the Elections Office website, www.elections.ky.