Polling stations designed to eliminate confusion

| 16/04/2009

(CNS): The Election’s office has completed its work on how the polling station’s will be set up to enable electors to vote in both the General Election and the Constitutional Referendum on 20 May as easily and as efficiently as possible with minimum confusion. All polling stations will be divided up so voters come through the election process first to cast their ballot before passing through the referendum section to deliver their decision in that vote. Tents, classrooms and partitions will all be utilised to ensure the two polls are kept separate and apart. (Left Orrett Connor demonstrates voting process.)

 

During a demonstration for the benefit of the media yesterday (Wednesday 15 April) the Supervisor of elections Kearney Gomez, along with the two deputy supervisors Colford Scott and Orrett Connor, explained in detail and demonstrated the process by which voters would cast their ballots in both the polls without being confused or risk making mistakes. Gomez explained the set up was designed to funnel voters through the two areas giving them the chance to vote in both or either poll and then exit from the referendum area without having to return to the election area. With space a problem in some districts he said that the office would be using classrooms and four air condition tents where necessary to divide up the two polls.

Colford Scott explained the need for the clear separation of the referendum and election from each other. “The separation of the two is to avoid confusion and the question of putting the wrong ballot in the wrong ballot box,” Scott said. “We are operating with two different laws. If there was an election’s petition the officers working the election would be required to submit the documents and ballots to the court, where as if a judicial review was requested on the referendum then the officers for the referendum would supply the appropriate ballots and information.”

Scott said with two different sets of instruction running the two concurrently could have been very complicated. As a result the elections office has created a system where things happening in the election area do not confuse things happening in the referendum area.

Consequently, there will be double the number of people working on polling day to cover the two different polls. On arrival voters will be directed into the polling station by a field officer who will also ask voters to leave their phones and cameras with them before entering the station.

Connor explained that no cameras are allowed inside the station in order to protect the integrity of confidentiality. He said if people were allowed cameras the possibility of voters taking an image of the ballot as proof of vote could fuel possibilities of corruption regarding payments for votes. So once the voter is freed of his potential image taking equipment he will be directed into the station for the election there voters will be checked to ensure they are who they say they are, checked on the poll book by the polling clerks and then given a ballot paper and instructions by the presiding officer. They then entre the curtained ballot station where they cast either 1,2,3 or 4 votes depending on the district. Once they have voted they return the ballot to the presiding officer folded to match the ballot pad counter foil to ensure it’s the same one they were first given and once confirmed the voter is asked to drop the ballot in the box.

The voter then moves into the referendum room, passing another field officer at the entrance. The exact same process is then repeated but this time the instruction will be for voters to mark a cross by ‘yes’ or ‘no’ before dropping the checked ballot into the box. Voters can opt to vote either just in the election or just the referendum or both by passing through and indicating whether they will or won’t vote.

However, the elections office says that with a historic big turn out for elections in Cayman it is hoped that as people will have to walk through both areas to vote in either poll they will make the decision to exercise their democratic right to do both.

Aside from eliminating confusion and mistakes the voting process is also geared up to completely eliminate any possible fraud or mismanagement at every step of the game. With ballot boxes sealed, ballot papers numbered and crossed checked and agents or candidates also watching the general election and observers appointedby the Governor watching the referendum in every station the integrity of the ballot is well guarded the elections supervisors all explained.

Scott noted that the number of postal votes has been significantly reduced this year as only overseas voters will use that method which should also help speed up the count. Election workers and anyone else working on election day, those in the Pines or in hospital or otherwise unable to vote on polling day will be able to vote in advance using one of the election’s office new mobile polling stations. This units will, in the weeks preceding polling day be stationed in the districts at strategic places to offer access to everyone who needs. Scott also explained that a team of election and referendum officers will also attend the homes of those who are house bound to offer them the opportunity to cast their votes in both elections.  The aim, the elections office confirmed is to afford every single one of the 15, 361 people entitled to vote can do so.

 

 

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Category: Election 2009

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