American to chair boundary commission

| 15/01/2015 | 3 Comments
Cayman News Service

Lisa Handley, PhD

(CNS): An international election expert from the US will be chairing the new Electoral Boundary Commission (EBC) that will make the recommendations for the division of the Cayman Islands into single member electoral districts and pave the way for the long-awaited introduction of ‘one man, one vote’. Consultant Lisa Handley, PhD, was appointed by the governor and will join local lawyers Adriannie Webb and Steve McField, who were picked by the premier and opposition leader respectively.

The PPM government made a commitment to introduce the more equitable voting system and overturn the existing multi-member constituencies, in which at the last election voters in the district of George Town elected six candidates — one third of the Legislative Assembly. Despite some apparent backtracking in the early part of the administration, the premier agreed to establish the commission and start the ball rolling for electoral reform before the 2017 national ballot.

As a result the commission, chaired by Handley, will do the necessary research and submit a report to the governor and the Legislative Assembly within four months with recommendations for the boundaries of the electoral constituencies.

In a release from Government Information Services, officials stated there would be eighteen constituencies, addressing concerns that had been raised by the MLAs from the two single-member constituencies, Arden McLean (East End) and Ezzard Miller (North Side), who failed to get the government to commit to that number in the debate last year on the government motion to establish the commission.

The EBC is required under the constitution to invite views from members of the public and take account of the Cayman Islands’ natural boundaries and existing electoral districts. They must also ensure, as far as is practical, that each constituency contains an equal number of people qualified to be registered as electors. The Constitution also requires that Cayman Brac and Little Cayman continue to return at least two members to the LA. It is understood that the public will be notified shortly on how they can contribute to the work.

Officials expect the 2015 EBC to submit its recommendations to the governor within four months and changes arising from the report will be implemented prior to the May 2017 general elections

Explaining Handley’s appointment, officials said she had provided electoral assistance in over a dozen countries, where she served as a consultant on issues related to electoral boundary delimitation and electoral system design. Her clients have included the United Nations Election Administration Division, as well as various peacekeeping missions, the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the Department of Justice, several civil rights organizations, redistricting commissions, and scores of state and local jurisdictions.

Handley has also participated in election projects in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Georgia, Haiti, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Yemen.

Webb, who was nominated by the premier, is a veteran of past electoral boundaries commissions and a member of the People’s Progressive Movement. She has been active in politics and community affairs since returning to the Cayman Islands to work for Truman Bodden and Company after being called to the Bar in England in 1975.

The leader of the opposition recommended barrister Steve McField, who has practiced law in the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands since 1977. Over the past decade he has also served on a dozen public sector boards and he is a founding member and former president of the Caymanian Bar Association. He represented the Cayman Islands at the United Nations Decolonisation Forum in 2010 and the first High Level Meeting of the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories Council in 2012.

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Category: Elections, Politics

Comments (3)

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  1. MeNoLikeItAtAll says:

    So we get someone from the place that invented gerrymandering?

  2. Justsaying says:

    We need outside “experts” so that the people in power do not have to make a decision. The electorate should wonder as to why outside help is needed in omov scenario. On such a small island it should be a simple task but yet again we throw money at issues because we have no idea what we are doing. I blame us, the people of Cayman, who vote for inept politicians.

  3. Tony says:

    In the US, the manipulation of boundaries for a political advantage is done shamelessly. Last year, Florida finally got into trouble when failed to adequately hide that they had packed a group of voters into one district so as to benefit the candidates in the surrounding districts. In my opinion the only way to prevent such political segregation is to limit the number of lines that can be used to separate a voting district. If we had no more that 8-10 lines separating voting districts, we would be assured of competitive elections.

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