Today’s Editorial March 03: Openness and transparency

It’s rare when members of the government backbench and opposition lawmakers agree on something.

But in the case of the upcoming 20 May constitutional referendum, at least some agree that those results should be published, not only from a national perspective, but also in each voting district.

We’d like to add our voice to support the public release of those referendum results on a district-by-district basis.

Frankly, we don’t understand the government’s concerns that certain political districts will be stigmatised if they vote against the constitutional modernisation as proposed. Unless the government of the day is secretly plotting to punish a particular district for voting against the plan, we imagine those voters would like to know how their ‘home towns’ decided.

Also, counting the ballots by district, as is done in the general election, could provide valuable information about how many of those who voted for the political candidates continued on to vote in the referendum.

We think the way the Elections Office currently proposes to conduct the vote, with one location set up for voters to participate in the general election and a separate area to vote in the referendum will cause at least some voters to skip the constitutional modernisation ballot.

It would be interesting to note just how many of those ‘under votes’ have occurred.

The Caymanian Compass believes legislators should change the language in the Referendum Law, 2009 and allow the national vote to be changed to a district election.

Let’s be clear: the constitution will become the law of this entire country if it gets a simple majority of voters on 20 May, regardless of whether one district votes against it. Also, publishing the district-by-district results will in no way prevent the eventual national referendum results from being known.

We would like anyone to provide us with any logical reasons they believe the district results on the constitutional modernisation referendum should not be made public. As the Leader of the Opposition said recently, whether those results are published or not, someone in the Elections Office will surely have that valuable information.

Most developed democracies provide the public with voting statistics ad nauseam, including the number of voters from each party, the specific breakdown of each voting district, no matter how small, as well as overall voter turnout in those areas.

We know the good people over at the Elections Office are probably groaning with despair as they read this editorial, and consider the extra work that garnering district voting results will entail. Truly, they are going to be tested by the prospect of holding two major votes on one day.

But we believe the current government’s oft-stated commitment to openness and transparency should bear out in this case.

Most Cayman Islands citizens may never have a chance to weigh in on their country’s governing document again. They should know how the districts they call home voted.

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