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Voting process explained


Compass Staff

Sunday 8th May, 2005   Posted: 15:55 CIT   (20:55 GMT)

Every effort is being made to make sure that the general elections on Wednesday go smoothly and the process is voter–friendly, Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez has confirmed.

Where to go

The first thing voters should do, he emphasised, is check which polling division they should go to in order to cast their ballots.

Some polling places have changed since the 2000 elections, he warned. For example, John Gray High School is not being used this year and Bodden Towners have a new venue at Pedro Castle.

The voter does not choose where to go. The polling divisions [locations] are set out in the official Register of Electors, informally known as the Voters List. These lists are on display at supermarkets, post offices and many gas stations.

Voters may also look up information on the Elections Office website

At the polling location, there will be two stations, divided alphabetically by voters’ last names.

Mr. Gomez said there will be plenty of signs giving directions. There will also be field officers outside to answer questions.

Only election workers and persons voting will be allowed within 300 feet of any building used as a polling place during voting hours.

Accommodations for handicapped

Over the last few months the Elections Office has been encouraging the elderly and physically infirm to come out to vote. Special arrangements are in place for them and they will be taken to the head of the line if they wish.

There will be wheelchairs at each location and an officer to push the chair into the polling station. Each station will have a voting booth that is extra wide to accommodate the wheelchair, with a writing ledge at a convenient level.

Inside the polling station

Inside the polling station there will be a table with two polling clerks and a presiding officer. The presiding officer is in charge.

Candidates or their agents are allowed inside to observe and keep track of who is voting, but they cannot see how anybody votes and they cannot interfere.

The voter should approach the table of election officers and, when asked, should state his or her name, street address and occupation. The officer will look the name up on the register and confirm these details.

When it has been confirmed that the voter is in the right place, the presiding officer will prepare a ballot by initialling it and folding it. The officer will then explain how many votes the elector has in that district. The officer will also tell the voter to mark an X to the right of the name of the candidate.

In handing over the ballot, the officer will instruct the voter to go into the voting booth, make his or her choice(s) and then return the ballot folded the same way as when it was handed over.

If the voter is incapacitated and wants assistance, he or she must take an oath to say so. The presiding officer will then assist in the marking of the ballot as the voter directs. This will be done in the presence of a poll clerk and, if requested by the voter, the presence of a friend. The friend cannot help the voter vote.

Mr. Gomez pointed out that voters do not have to cast all of their votes. They may choose up to the number of seats in the constituency.

West Bay and George Town have four seats each. Bodden Town has three seats. The electoral district of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman has two seats. East end and North Side each has one seat.

Making a mistake

If a voter makes a mistake in marking the ballot, he or she may return it to the presiding officer and get a new ballot. The ballot with the mistake will write the word “spoiled” across its face.

If the voter again makes a mistake, he or she can return to the presiding officer, who will then offer assistance. If assistance is refused and another mistake is made, the voter will be requested to leave the polling station.

Depositing the ballot

After the voter has marked the ballot, it should be folder and returned to the presiding officer. The officer will remove the counterfoil and hand the ballot back to the voter.

It used to be that the officer deposited the ballot in the box, but Mr. Gomez explained that the Election Law has been changed. Now the voter is the person who places the ballot into the ballot box, thus completing the process.

The presiding officer puts the ballot counterfoil into an envelope with other counterfoils. Mr. Gomez explained that the counterfoil is like a cheque stub that helps the officer keep track of how many ballots have been given out.

Hours of voting

Polls are to be open from 7am until 6pm. Mr. Gomez suggested that voters who have to work on Elections Day vote before going to work.

He also suggested that people not wait until minutes to six to go to the polls. No one not actually present within the polling station at 6pm will be allowed to vote. However, persons who are inside the polling station will be allowed.

Voting for Legislative Assembly

On Wednesday Caymanians will choose the candidate or candidates they want to represent them in the Legislative Assembly.

The successful candidates will become Members of the Legislative Assembly, informally known as MLAs.

The elected MLAs will vote for five members from amongst themselves to serve in Cabinet. The five chosen will be known as Ministers, but they also continue as MLAs.

Cayman does not have any other level of elected officials.

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