September 30, 2023

Call for radical election shake-up

Pin It

The electoral map of Grand Cayman will be entirely redrawn, with its six residential districts subdivided into 16 distinct voting areas, each sending its own representative to the
 Legislative Assembly.

Under the “one man-one vote” regime advocated yesterday by North Side independent Ezzard Miller and East End MLA Arden McLean, Cayman’s electoral boundaries would be scrambled, adding three Parliamentarians to the existing 15, and, according to the two, boosting the democratic process for everyone.

Even Cayman Brac and Little Cayman would get the redistricting treatment, although the outcome would not change the Sister Islands dual representation.

On Wednesday afternoon, the two MLAs launched a petition they hope will force government into staging a public referendum in November, changing the voting rules in time for May 2013 elections, making them, they say, more equitable for everyone,

“We have a responsibility to enlighten this country on the value of single-member constituencies,” said Mr Mclean, East End’s sole MLA. The election of one representative per district, he said, “requires intimacy on the part of politicians with the members of their constituency. It demands accountability and it ensures responsibility by the representative for their mandate.”

Mr Miller, lone legislator for North Side, has twice been rebuffed in the LA, seeking support for electoral changes, and calling attention to the 2009 constitutional mandate for “one person, one vote” and 18 MLAs. On Wednesday, he pointed to three Electoral Boundary Commission recommendations, neglected, he said, by the ruling UDP.

“Nothing has been done by government,” Mr Miller said, although last April and again in December UDP officials had tried simply to add two seats to George Town and one to Bodden Town.

“It was so poorly done, though, that they had to withdraw it,” he said.

The petition, aimed at Cayman’s 15,175 registered voters, requires the signature of 25% of those electors, 3,794, in order to force government to mount what the constitution calls a “people-initiated referendum”, which will call for the new single-member constituencies and the new
electoral map.

Both George Town and West Bay now send four people to parliament, and Bodden Town and the Sister Islands each elect two. New divisions would create 18 districts, each sending one. West Bay would be divided into east, north, northwest and south sections. George Town would separate into north, central, west and south districts, and add Red Bay and Prospect.

Bodden Town would subdivide into Newlands, Savannah, Pedro St James and Bodden Town.

North Side and East End would remain unchanged, while the Sister Islands would be labeled Cayman Brac East and Cayman Brac West, encompassing the hundreds-only population of Little Cayman.

Mr Miller said the drive had “already started”, with an announcement by Mr McLean at a Monday-night East End political meeting, and a modest door-to-door canvass. Already, he said, 27 people had volunteered to help and “we will have a lot more, at least 50.”

“We are looking for 4,000 signatures to trigger the referendum,” Mr Miller said, ”and look for 5,000 as a goal.” The single-page petition has been designed, he said, for ease of confirmation, asking a picture ID and a voter registration number. Each page will provide 10 signatures, and each “book” will contain 10 pages.

Both Mr Miller and Mr McLean interpreted the constitutional phrase “reasonable time”, during which a referendum must be staged after
being triggered.

“We want to get the signatures to Cabinet by the first week of April so they have time to set up the [November] referendum. I think government would have a hard time explaining why, in eight months, that is not a ‘reasonable time’. That would be unreasonable.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Speak Your Mind