The question of tradition versus equal suffrage

| 14/07/2017 | 6 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): The recently published report by the Commonwealth mission of independent election observers has made a number of recommendations, one of which is the need to look at the number of voters in the constituencies in the eastern districts. This stems from the significant disparity of the four most eastern single-member districts on Grand Cayman. In North Side and East End there are around 700 voters, while Bodden Town East and Bodden Town West are the largest two constituencies on the island.  

The constituencies on the Sister Islands are also very small but it is enshrined in the Constitution that Cayman Brac and Little Cayman must have two members in the Legislative Assembly and it would require a referendum to achieve equity with the majority of seats in Grand Cayman.

However, the matter of the eastern constituencies is down to tradition and the strong sentiment expressed by the voters in EE and NS during the 2015 Electoral Boundary Commission public consultation. 

The question that remains for government and the people is whether tradition and historical boundaries should trump inequities in representation. Is it OK for 1,600 plus voters to have one MLA between them when their near neighbours have a ratio of less than half that?

Bodden Town is the fastest growing district and the constituencies within its boundaries are already home to some of the largest in terms of voter numbers. But the two largest constituencies geographically are also the smallest in terms of headcount on Grand Cayman, and both border Bodden Town East, raising the possibility of creating more equitable constituencies by pushing the boundaries of both East End and North Side into that constituency.

This could then create a domino effect on Bodden Town to create a more equitable political landscape across Grand Cayman all the way into George Town.

While the voters of North Side and East End are vehemently opposed to merging their constituencies, they may be more supportive of redrawing the map so that they absorb in parts of Bodden Town East and push the western boundary of that constituency into BTW.

Dwayne Seymour, who won the BTE seat as an independent candidate, has been appointed as the health minister in the PPM’s coalition government. So, in addition to his job at the helm of one of the largest and most complex ministries, he has the largest number of constituents to represent.

Meanwhile, Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean have the least number of people to represent and they are sitting on the opposition benches. Chris Saunders, the representative for Bodden Town West, has the second largest number of voters to watch out for, but as an opposition member his only role other than taking care of his constituents’ needs is to act as a spokesperson on financial matters.

The obvious inequities in representation is stirring debate over whether boundary lines should be amended. Take the CNS poll below to let your views be known.

See poll results here

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Category: Elections, Opinion Poll, Politics

Comments (6)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Rotten boroughs make corruption more effective. So they could be seen as being of cultural significance.

  2. WaYaSay says:

    The idea of extending North Side along the North Sound shore to include voters in the Bodden Town West around North Sound Estates and Prospect and extending the East End boundary to include voters now in Breakers (Bodden Town East) so that there is equality in voters, was put forward by me (and publicly supported by Ezzard) at the boundaries commission meeting in North Side.

    The argument that voter equality needs to be maintained is a valid one but the suggestion that the two constituencies makes no sense because by whatever metric one looks at it the two largest land masses in Cayman are bound to grow once proper road access and proper economies opportunity is expanded in these districts, just like Bodden Town have exploded in the past couple of election cycles.

    It makes no sense to combine them both now, just to eliminate Arden or Ezzard and dividing them again in a couple of years when populations there grow.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have not heard one person from Bodden Town, East end, North Side, or Cayman Brac and little Cayman express an interest in seeing this changed. In fact I have not heard one Caymanian support this point of view following the last election. So the question is just who is the driving force behind this ? The Cayman people have ‘ Much Bigger fish to fry’ than this red herring being thrown out.We need to deal with Immigration and in particular the “Entitlement Mentality’ of a large number of expats who want every right that Caymanians have and more.We have to return to the policy of having a ‘Guest Worker’ leave once their permit has expired. Simple.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It matters not one iota that the voters of North Side and East End are vehemently opposed to merging their constituencies. Of course they are, they effectively have twice the voting power of everyone else in Grand Cayman. Ironic, considering that the two east MLAs were most vocal on the concept of “one man,one vote”. Ezzard got voted back in with a mere 201 votes (and is Leader of Opposition) , while my candidate of choice in Bodden Town West received more than double that, 415 votes, and lost his seat. Way to go Ezzard, champion of this supposed “fair” one man one vote system.

  5. annon says:

    Where is the option to amalgamated East End and North Side? Why do their constituents get to choose that they want to be separate? Not written in the law right?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Suggestion: leave the the boundaries as is and get the East/West Arterial road completed to North Side. In short order the population will adjust. Just as BT has done over the last 10 or so years.
    Let’s think about the future rather than right now.


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