(CNS): Following the historic debate on the Legislative Assembly last week on the government motion adopting the introduction of ‘one man, one vote’ in single member constituencies in time for the 2017 General Election, officials at the Elections Office are preparing the ground for the electoral reform. Government’s next step is to amend the existing elections law and the premier told his parliamentary colleagues this week that the amendments will be brought before them by March next year. Meanwhile, the elections management team are beginning to plan for the nation’s first election under the new system.
The general elections and the adoption of the nineteen single member constituencies, as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission, are 19 months away and the Elections Office will be working on the necessary legislative changes to legitimize the new political landscape. Officials will also be working on the logistics of the 2017 elections, including staff and paraphernalia requirements, training, changes in polling requirements and educating voters.
“Communicating changes in the elections process to voters has always been a key priority for the Elections Office,” Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell said, noting that, with the magnitude of the changes recommended in the EBC report, the Elections Office plans to continue the tradition of offering guidance to voters and other stakeholders.
However, North Side MLA Ezzard Miller, who has long campaigned for the adoption of OMOV in SMCs, recently told CNS that the people of Cayman are more than capable of understanding and adapting to the change, which is far easier to comprehend than the block voting in multi-member constituencies they have been used to.
In 2017, all registered voters (a figure that currently stands at 18,285) will have the right to cast just one vote for one member in a ‘first past the post’ system.
The boundary commission has drawn up the constituencies within the boundaries of the districts, and although they are in some cases very similar to the former polling station districts, there are some significant changes in some areas such as West Bay, as well as the Bodden Town-George Town border areas.
While voters will be able to adapt quickly to the casting of one ballot in their new constituencies, the challenge will be for those who want to be elected to work out where they should now stand.
Although existing politicians and former candidate will be closely examining their previous polling results to see which areas of their districts brought them the most support, the new boundaries, where they vary from the previous polling districts, may make it less obvious to calculate. It will also present challenges for the parties where existing members find that they share their best support with their political colleagues.
Draft maps showing the new constituencies are available on the Elections Office website. But although it is now a public document, the final copy of the EBC 2015 report is not yet published on any government website for the public to see. CNS has requested a copy and will post the report as soon as we receive it.