LA paves way for historic election change

| 20/10/2015 | 18 Comments
Cayman News Service

Polling station sign, Cayman Islands

(CNS): The government motion on electoral reform has passed through the Legislative Assembly, paving the way for the introduction of ‘one man, one vote’ in single member constituencies and a complete overhaul of Cayman’s political landscape. The government failed to get a full majority Monday evening for the historic motion after the opposition leader and his two UDP West Bay colleagues voted against it but a cheering Ezzard Miller and a less sceptical Arden McLean both backed the change despite their concerns regarding the 19th seat.

The historic moment was blighted, however, by the local television providers when customers with Logic lost the live TV feed from the Legislative Assembly. Despite a short break in the proceedings to allow the engineers to sort out the problem, many people still missed the vote as the broadcast was not restored until afterwards.

Following a lively debate that began Friday and took up most of the proceedings Monday, the adoption of the Electoral Boundary Commission’s final report will see the Cayman Islands voting map turned into 19 single member constituencies, in which all voters will use just one vote to elect one member to the parliament.

The government will now need to bring a change to the current elections law to ensure that the requirements of the order will take place ahead of the 2017 General Election and ensure the Elections Office can begin an awareness campaign regarding the new constituencies where people will vote.

This closes the chapter on some 185 years of block-voting in multi-member constituencies and introduces a system that many believe is much more equitable and better suits the country’s growing voting population and maturing democracy.

While most members spoke in favour, there was less enthusiasm from Winston Connolly (C4C), who appeared to be the most sceptical member of the government benches. Despite supporting the principle of OMOV, he said he had concerns about single member constituencies and had favoured a national ballot. Echoing comments by Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, Connolly warned that small constituencies could lead to garrison politics and more vote buying. He said other members were naïve to think it would not happen.

However, the independent member from East End, Arden McLean, who has spearheaded the campaign for electoral reform along with North Side MLA Ezzard Miller, reminded Connolly that corruption can only happen if politicians are corruptible and that the concept of garrison politics is almost exclusive to Jamaica and does not happen anywhere else in the Caribbean or in other jurisdictions.

Despite the 19th seat and McLean’s worries that there was still one more important step for government before the change was a certainty with the legislative amendments, both McLean and Miller voted with government. The only government member not to vote was the tourism minister who left ahead of the vote to go to an overseas conference.

The coverage of the historic debate will be broadcast over the next week in the evening on Radio Cayman and is expected to be repeated on the government’s TV channel and posted on its YouTube page.

The Nineteen Single Member Electoral Districts Boundaries Order, 2015

Read the draft findings of the Electoral Boundary Commission on the Elections Office website

Although the full and final EBC is now a public document it is not yet available on line. 

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Comments (18)

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  1. Drink da Kool-aid says:

    The beginning of the end! so go head drink da Kool-Aid!

  2. Just Watchin says:

    Alas, Alden has had his Gandhian moment: “There goes my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”

  3. Food for Thought says:

    I don’t think this is going to be as great as the masses expect. I think there will be severe unintended consequences. Our choices will now be greatly reduced because each candidate will now only be able to run in one district. In my example, GT, in 2013 I had 21 candidates to choose from, that will now more than likely drop to 2 or 3. Voter turnout will probably be reduced because, unfortunately, I am not going out to vote just for the sake of voting if my options are candidates whose track records I don’t agree with. Majorly, I think people are just thinking this will get rid of Mckeeva’s hold, it wont! The man is the consummate politician who is well liked and supported by his people! I don’t care whether you like him or not his followers are loyal to the core. So his supporters will understand the bigger picture and vote so that it matters. People are forgetting that whilst they are trying to take away Mckeeva’s advantage they are also doing the same for his competition. He was the clear lead in all poll areas except WBS where Tara was the lead, do you really think that she would be able to beat him head to head in the next election? It will be a totally different dynamic in the next election without the scandal hanging over his head. We could end up with a right mess on our hands once all the dust settles. I hope I am wrong and that we, the electorate, end up the true winners.

  4. Number 1 says:

    Errrr … you guys celebrating an electoral system that copies the Jamaican electoral system…

    smh … I guess ppm resembles pnp party for true 🙂

  5. Knot S Smart says:

    So if I am from George Town – can I vote 5 times for one person?…

  6. Anonymous says:

    So when will the vote approving increased maternity leave/benefit and paternity leave take place?

  7. Yaaay says:

    Thank you Anthony Eden and Alva Suckoo for ensuring that this got done

  8. Anonymous says:

    Just another bastardized non-democracy. Referendum is the only way to go. Just make it more efficient. Did not the e-gov folk of Estonia just visit us? What is the problem?
    Oh yes, greed and power.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Can’t wait to vote (OMOV) in West Bay and I will not be voting for anyone associated with Mac.

    Mac needs to retire before the next election and do more swimming in his pool and take more vacation trips to Las Vegas & Bahamas. Eugene also needs to retire and get on his boat and do more picturing taking with tourists in the North Sound at Stingray City.

    • Anonymous says:

      Looks like I’ll be waiting for a while before OMOV hits the Lesser Caymans.

    • Number 1 says:

      trust me bobo, it won’t change a thing. bush will still be getting back in. he is still going to have enough votes, and cayman will just be more divided … like 19 times 🙂

  10. Rp says:

    But we don’t need 19 members. 15 is plenty. Constituencies need to be bigger so that we can draw better quality candidates. It will also work against vote buying and reduce the impact of family and friends based elections.

  11. Anonymous says:

    STOP using garrison politics as likely outcome knowing full well our successive governments were hell-bent on ensuring majority of status holders were used to that system, but it might back fire on them and those who saw what that system can do will have enough sense for their own futures and growing number of their people to avoid voting for candidates who try to buy their votes.

    Welcome to OMOV now to educate people that colour of people and flags don’t matter and vote for people who are fair, honest and love the Cayman Islands

    • Number 1 says:

      I think the system works well in the United States, but the people there not only vote for who’s in their district, but gets to nationally vote for who is President. We don’t have that prevelege because we have a Westminister style government where we are not allowed to directly vote for who is premier. Hence OMOV system in Westminster style countries like Jamaica and other Caribbean nations have only proven to be an electoral system that is more corrupted. I think with this system, the cost for ensuring corruption kept at bay will be high for this small island.

      Look! We can’t even vote in who is Premier! That’s a big deal!

  12. Anonymous says:

    It is regrettable that the election districts were not balanced as to population. Obviously the Sister Islands are unique but East End and North Side continue to believe that they are special.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thank F, finally these dinosaurs who ride on people’s coattails and do absolutely nothing whilst they are in office other than milk our coffers will be extinct.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Now PPM needs to categorically tell us that this will be put into place for the next election. No ifs, ands or buts!! I am waiting for them to find a way to delay it for another election cycle.

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