Elections Supervisor appoints local observers
An independent nine-person team, headed by veteran legislator Mr. Norman Bodden, is preparing to observe proceedings during next week’s general elections – a first for the Cayman Islands.
The group, appointed by the Supervisor of Elections, is comprised of non-partisan men and women from a cross-section of society. The other members are Mrs Georgette Myrie; Mr John MacMillan; Rev Alson Ebanks; Mr Gilbert Connolly; Ms Carol Winker and Mr Adrian Estwick. The two Sister Islands representatives are Mr Edgar Ashton Bodden and Mr Joel Scott Sr.
This group includes a former MLA and persons currently or formerly associated with the media, clergy and the Justices of the Peace Association. Some of these members served as returning officers and presiding officers in previous elections. Additionally, Mr. Bodden also served as an observer during the past two local referenda.
The team will focus on operational issues at the polling stations and the count to determine if the prescribed protocols are being observed. These include the opening of polls, queues at polling stations, the close of polling and the undertaking of the preliminary counts in the six electoral districts – and the final counts.
An Elections Office statement notes that ‘having domestic observers at elections and referenda provides another tier of scrutiny which is fundamental in the delivery of free and fair elections and have important advantages over observers from abroad’.
There is one fundamental difference between this year and the observers in the past two referenda, however. While the former group of over 100 observers was assigned to permanent stations, this year the members will be mobile, and will visit polling stations across these Islands. Even so, Mr Bodden and his team will not be engaged in the proceedings, but have a strict code of conduct, operation orders and checklists relating to their mandate.
After the election they will submit an appraisal of the process to the Elections Office, which will be part of the overall report which is submitted, as usual, to His Excellency the Governor.
Other observers and scrutineers will be present across the Cayman Islands next week. These include the previously-announced Commonwealth Observer Group, which arrives later this week. While the domestic observer team will be functioning independent of the overseas group, they may choose to collaborate in their efforts.
There will also be dozens of agents present during the process.