New official takes over voting register in West Bay

| 24/08/2016 | 10 Comments
Cayman News Service

Election Supervisor Wesley Howell (centre) at the handover of office from former Elections Registering Officer for West Bay Darlene Owens-Elliott (left) to new West Bay Elections Registering Officer Bethany Powery-Ebanks

(CNS): As the Elections Office immerses itself in preparations for the Cayman Islands’ first general election under the system of ‘one man, one vote’ in single member constituencies next year, a new registering officer has been appointed in West Bay. Bethany Powery-Ebanks has replaced 20-year election veteran Darlene Owens-Elliott. The new officer will need to hit the ground running as the door-to-door enumeration of voters starts this Saturday, when over 160 enumerators will begin the task of visiting every residential building in the Cayman Islands to update the full voter registration list.

Ensuring the addresses of registered voters and potential new members of the electoral register are correct is even more significant for the May 2017 General election because of the new constituency boundaries.

In West Bay, in addition to transitioning from a single four-member constituency to four single seats in the district, the new boundaries, which will be confirmed once the Elections Law amendments are made, are different from the former polling station boundaries. Following the report of last year’s Election Boundary Commission, in order to maintain equity in the voter numbers the proposed boundary lines from previous commissions were changed.

Despite the success of Tara Bush, who successfully stood as a C4C candidate in 2013, the district has been seen as a UDP (now renamed the CDP) stronghold for the last 15 years and more generally dominated by Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, who opposes the change.

The four West Bay seats will still be critical in the formation of the next government, and ensuring accuracy in registration will be extremely important.

At the recent handover at the Elections Office in Smith Road Centre, Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell thanked Owens-Elliot for her long and meticulous service and welcomed Powery-Ebanks, who he said would provide equally exemplary service to all the voters for the new constituencies.

Retiring on health grounds, Owens-Elliott took up the role after retiring from the immigration department. Reflecting on some of the oddities she encountered over the 20 years that she was an official, she said on one occasion 21 applications for postal ballots were made on just one post office box address. Owens-Elliot said she refused the applications and reported the matter to the elections supervisor.

After that, candidates were warned that their committee members could not use one postal box for more than one ballot and soon afterwards the Elections Law was changed to prevent the potential fraud in future elections.

Owens-Elliott was described by officials as being meticulous in ensuring that people who have died are removed, along with those declared unsound of mind by the chief medical officer and those in jail for more than 12 months to ensure unscrupulous people are not misusing votes and that new successful applicants are included in the electors list.

She noted the importance being aware of the activities in the district that impact where people live and who moves in and out.

“My years with the Elections Office provided a great learning experience. I enjoyed the work very much and am going to miss my co-workers. But my health is deteriorating and we need younger blood in the office now,” she said.

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Category: 2017 General Elections, Elections, Politics

Comments (10)

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  1. Mac and Cheese says:

    All they need now is someone worth voting for.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Watch out for plant pots!.

  3. John Dor says:

    Think you mean Tara Rivers

  4. Anonymous says:

    Is anyone checking to make sure that persons already on the register are in fact Caymanian as part of the process?

    • Anonymous says:

      No one is listening to you fool!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. I needed CI passport with Caymanian Status stamp, proof of residential address, and driver’s license.

      • Anonymous says:

        Good news. Is that required of everyone? I understand persons have been registered in the past without having to provide proof of status.

        • Anonymous says:

          “I understand” is one of these marl road nonsense statements beloved by certain posters on CNS. For example, “I understand that all the crime in Cayman is being committed by those who got Status in the Gold Rush”.

        • Anonymous says:

          I didn’t have to prove I had status. My passport showing my birth in Cayman seemed to be enough, but I always thought that strange as I know some people born in Cayman are not Caymanian.

    • Pete Ustinov says:

      I know who I am.
      Do you know who you are?

      Peter Ustinov

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