(CNS): The Elections Office has begun a voter driver to attract as many people as possible from the 5,000 Caymanians who are entitled to vote but not yet registered to sign up before it’s too late. If government was to call an early November election, the register is already closed for new voters because of the time it takes to get on the register. But the Elections Office has now started work, focused on an anticipated May general election, and is stressing the need for anyone who wants to vote in that election to sign up well before the January deadline and for existing voters to ensure their residency details are accurate as it will impact their new polling constituencies.
Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell explained at a press conference Friday that preparation work has begun on the next election, which will be the first in Cayman’s history under the ‘one man, one vote’, single member constituency system.
The new register of electors is expected to be published shortly and Howell said he believed after the recent clean-up exercise and with new voters added, the list will go from around 18,200 voters to around 18,500, but that means there are still over 5,000 people entitled to vote in May 2017 that are not on the register.
The campaign to encourage new voters to register and existing voters to update their details will run alongside a public awareness campaign about the new voting process. Howell said special emphasis will be placed on getting young voters registered by reaching out to that demographic through social media and at the University College of the Cayman Islands later this week.
Although still 12 months away if the government is not forced to call early elections, there is a lot of work for the Elections Office to do and officials are eagerly awaiting the election law reform to make the legislation compliant with the Constitution. That revised law is expected to be with Cabinet by the end of this month.
The Elections Office has revamped its website to make it more reader-friendly, officials said, along with the maps depicting the new 19 single member electoral districts, or constituencies, and a searchable database so voters can see which constituency they will now vote in.
“We have a comprehensive programme of work ahead of us, and we are determined to deliver free, fair and transparent elections called for under the Constitution and the Elections Law. Our new branding is an indication our commitment to building on the excellent foundation of elections officials over the years and continuing the work of modernising elections in the Cayman Islands,” Howell said.
At present there are still just six registering officers, who will deal with the voters in all of the new relevant constituencies falling within the electoral district but the office plans to appoint assistants to help them deal with the workload, not just registering new voters but verifying existing registered electors.
Howell said the office did not see a need to appoint a registering officer for each of the 19 SMCs. Staff are, however, expected to be going door to door soon on the registration and education drive, which they also hope will be supported by those people who plan to stand in the coming election.
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