October 24, 2020

One man, vote for all

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I quote from Wikipedia: ‘“One man, one vote’ (or one person, one vote) is a slogan that has been used in many parts of the world where campaigns have arisen for universal suffrage. It became particularly prevalent in less developed countries, during the period of decolonisation and the struggles for national sovereignty from the late 1940s onwards. It was used in this form in an important legal case in the United States, the United States Supreme Court majority opinion of “Reynolds v. Sims”, issued in 1964.”

The meaning “one man, one vote” means legislative districts need to be divided according to population, so that each person, and therefor each interest, has an equal amount of representation in government.

The “Reynolds v. Sims” ruling held state political districts of unequal size resulted in under-representation of some citizens’ interests and over-representation of others. In order to meet constitutional standards, districts had to be reapportioned so each had approximately equal population.

The position here at the moment is if there is an election, a person will be able to vote for more than one candidate. In other words, a strong candidate, say the premier Hon. McKeeva Bush, can take two or three much weaker persons with him because they are a team. If there was ‘One man, one vote’, the larger districts like George Town, West Bay and Bodden Town would be divided up into equal divisions based on population. The system is fairer because one gets proportional representation and one person accountable to his or her neighbourhood.

The present constitution would appear to call for a single member vote but when North Side MLA, Ezzard Miller, brought the motion of “one man, one vote” to the L.A. last Thursday (17) so as to amend the election law in line with the constitution, it was defeated by the government.

“I cannot find any dictionary that defines ‘an’ as four,” Mr. Miller said. “No other country in the modern day has such a convoluted system as what we have. The constitution sets out clearly in section 92 that eligible persons can vote for an elected member showing the intent of one man-one vote.”

It is unfortunate that the previous government, the PPM (People’s Progressive Movement) didn’t make the wording clearer.

I would have hoped that the members who voted against it would have voiced their reasons. There are some excellent government people there, including back-benchers and I, like many members of the public, would have liked to hear their reasons. Whilst I can come up with one I don’t imagine they would have wanted to voice it. A week is a year in politics and an election is still a long way off. Silence is golden, but this decision gives even more weight to the dissatisfaction much of the population  has with this government.

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