New law changes approved by Cabinet hours ahead of the general election will allow postal and mobile ballots to be mixed with same-day votes in Election Day boxes before the start of counting, Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell announced.
Howell, in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, said he requested Cabinet change the rules surrounding general elections to allow the mixing of ballots “to protect the secrecy of the vote”, which he said was the cornerstone of any democracy.
“It is essential that we be vigilant in its protection whatever circumstances may arise. Given the low number of mobile and postal ballots cast in some electoral districts in this election, we realised there would be an issue and took prompt steps to address it,” Howell said in the statement.
In explaining the need for the change, the Elections Office statement said, “A very small number of postal and mobile votes in some constituencies this year meant an individual count of that box might allow persons to infer the identity of voters and how they cast their ballots.”
Howell also noted that the recommendation for this change had been previously put forward by international observers overseeing Cayman’s previous elections.
Elections staff prepares for polls
On Tuesday, polling station staffers ran through final checks of their ballot boxes, ballots and other tools they will be using for the general elections on Wednesday.
“We are ready [for the election.] We are hyped, they have been trained. They are ready to go out tomorrow and deliver the professionalism they have been trained to do,” Howell said in an interview with the Cayman Compass as the Elections Office staffers gathered at the John Gray High School gym in two batches to finalise preparations.
Governor Martyn Roper was also on hand at the gym to meet the staff and extend his best wishes ahead of the election.
“A huge amount of work has gone into this and here we do have a good reputation for holding free and fair elections and I have no doubt this will be no exception,” Roper told the Compass in a brief interview.
He encouraged voters to go out and have their say at the polls.
Roper said judging from what he has seen with the Elections Office preparations, the team is “very ready and very organised” for local polls.
Roper, in a in a subsequent message issued by his office Tuesday afternoon, added, “I am confident that the candidates and their agents will continue to conduct themselves in a professional manner, doing their part to ensure that the Cayman Islands 2021 General Elections meet international general elections best practice. There are always areas we can improve and we look forward to the feedback from the observers on the elections process.”
Mobile voting completed
Meanwhile, election teams completed their last round of mobile voting over the weekend with 28 voters in quarantine from Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac casting their ballots.
An Elections Office statement said the voters were aided by polling teams and Public Health professionals in full personal protective equipment.
“I would like to sincerely thank my team for their impressive display of professionalism and dedication to service while managing the complex logistics associated with mobile and postal voting. We look forward to continuing this momentum into Election Day, which we expect to be especially busy,” said Howell in the statement.
Since mobile voting began on Monday, 22 March, a further 486 voters have been polled at “static” mobile stations and election teams have visited 748 electors in their homes, hospitals and nursing homes.
The total number of mobile votes cast in the 2021 General Election is 1,262, which is 487 more than the 775 cast in the 2017 election.
Anyone who successfully applied for mobile voting but has not as yet been polled, is still able to vote in person on Election Day, the statement added.
A total of 455 postal ballots, the statement said, have been dispatched to overseas voters, which is 127 fewer postal ballots than the 582 issued in 2017.
|Electoral District||Static Polled Voters||Mobile Polled Voters||Quarantined Mobile Voters||Total Postal Ballots|
|Bodden Town East||40||50||2||92|
|Bodden Town West||39||14||53|
|Cayman Brac East||11||35||2||48|
|Cayman Brac West & Little Cayman||40||13||0||53|
|George Town Central||22||61||0||83|
|George Town East||22||11||0||33|
|George Town North||9||21||2||32|
|George Town South||14||25||2||41|
|George Town West||23||42||2||67|
|West Bay Central||30||84||4||118|
|West Bay North||11||76||0||87|
|West Bay South||12||52||3||67|
|West Bay West||9||74||1||84|
|Electoral District||Total Postal Ballots|
|Bodden Town East||20|
|Bodden Town West||22|
|Cayman Brac East||10|
|Cayman Brac West & Little Cayman||1|
|George Town Central||20|
|George Town East||28|
|George Town North||39|
|George Town South||41|
|George Town West||29|
|West Bay Central||23|
|West Bay North||17|
|West Bay South||43|
|West Bay West||18|