Mobile polling to become a reality

| 15/08/2008

(CNS): First raised during the debate of 2004 in the Legislative Assembly , mobile polling stations will now be available to eligible voters  with the passing of the Elections (Amendment) Law, 2008. Mobile stations will assist electors who are unable to go in person to a polling station. This will make the election process easier for the elderly and infirm those who are housebound or in hospital that still want to vote and reduce the number of postal ballots.

“That elector is entitled to have his vote taken at a mobile station if, in the prescribed manner and within the prescribed time, he applies to be treated as an absent elector voting at a mobile station and if his application is allowed by the registering officer,” one of the amendments reads.

Mobile voting will also make the process easier for those counting the votes because it will decrease the number of people who are eligible to cast postal ballots, which are often viewed with suspicion and are an additional burden for those involved in the count. The various processes for casting a postal ballot are very time consuming, and the implementation of mobile polling stations would cut down on man hours of election officials. "It would definitely make my job easier," Kearney Gomez, the supervisor of elections said when the idea was first discussed back in 2004.

Postal voting will not be eliminated, however, and among the other changes to the new law is the provision for eligible people to be registered as absent electors, allowing them to cast postal votes. Passed in the Legislative Assembly on 30 June and assented to by Governor, Stuart Jack, on 5 August, the Elections (Amendment) Law, 2008, will be published on 18 August as supplement no.3 to the Cayman Islands Gazette, no. 17.

When the Draft Bill for amendments to the Election Law were debated in the LA, the then opposition People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) had objected to the lack of provisions for mobile polling stations which had been in the original proposals. “Postal ballots have proven a source of suspicion in the past, particularly in the district of West Bay,” said Alden McLaughlin, now Education Minister. “The Government has given no credible reason why mobile polling stations, which would reduce the number of postal ballots, would not be a useful addition to the Elections Law.”

Although it has been in use in Australia and Canada for many years, it is still far from common. The US Government Accountability Office is currently studying polling accessibility. Some US senators have begun to support and promote the idea and a number of local elections are utilising mobile pollers in some US states.


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