Younger voters can weigh in

Cayman Islands citizens who turn 18 after the registration date for the upcoming general elections can still vote on 20 May as long as their birthday falls on or before the election date and they register to vote in time.

Lawmakers in Cayman and the United Kingdom recently approved necessary constitutional changes and have amended local legislation to allow teen voters who previously would have been disenfranchised to participate in the upcoming ballot, as well as the referendum on constitutional reform which is set for the same day.

‘Every effort will be made to ensure those people are enfranchised,’ Chief Secretary George McCarthy said last week.

The legal issues which prevented people who turned 18 between the voter registration deadline and 20 May of this year from voting were identified during the constitutional review process by Opposition party member and West Bay MLA Cline Glidden, Jr. Opposition members asked that the law be changed to accommodate those people.

‘It was an eminently sensible and reasonable proposal,’ Education Minister Alden McLaughlin said. ‘Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to vote until they were 22.’

In order to accommodate voter registration in general, the government has extended the registration deadline for the 20 May election from the initial date of 31 December to 31 January.

All voters, including the newly enfranchised teens, are urged to register to vote before that new date.

‘They need to take that opportunity now and make sure they get registered,’ said George Town MLA Alfonso Wright.

The number of eligible voters who turn 18 between 1 February and 20 May is expected to be relatively small. However, there are only expected to be 14,000 registered voters total for next year’s elections and in a close race just a few more ballots one way or the other could make a difference.

Only Cayman Islands citizens can participate in elections held here. Caymanian status-holders who have not been naturalised do not have voting rights; neither do permanent residents, work permit holders or contract employees.

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