Probably every Bodden Town voter knows by now there is a question about whether the district’s United Democratic Party candidates Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour are qualified to be elected as Legislative Assembly members.
The question arises out of the failure of the two candidates to have published in a government notice the details of contracts they, or their companies, have with the government within a month of the 20 May election. The notice of their interests, which is required by the 1972 Constitution, came out in the Cayman Islands Gazette on 24 April, four days late.
However, the two men did punctually complete a separate Registrar of Interests form at the Legislative Assembly as required by the Elections Law.
Despite the eligibility question, the two men continue to campaign and their names will appear on the Bodden Town ballot.
The Elections Office has said the eligibility matter is one for the courts. The matter would go to court only if one or both of the men were elected and if their election were challenged by another candidate, any registered voter, or the attorney general.
This week, Governor Stuart Jack issued a statement on the matter saying only that he expects all candidates in the upcoming election to ‘operate within the terms of the Constitution and the applicable laws of the Cayman Islands’ and that the courts would have to decide the merits of any challenge. Unfortunately, the statement did little to clarify a situation that poses many questions.
If, for example, Mr. Scotland or Mr. Seymour receive enough votes to be elected, and their election is successfully challenged on the basis that they didn’t publish their interests in government contracts on time, what happens then? Is there a by-election, or does the candidate with the next highest amount of votes become the elected representative? If there is a by-election, can Mr. Scotland and Mr. Seymour run in that election?
Mr. Jack said he expects all candidates to operate within the terms of the law, so does that mean that four People’s Progressive Movement candidates could all have their elections challenged because they completed the Register of Interest form late?
Then there’s the question of what constitutes government. Is Mr. Seymour’s contract with Cayman Airways – a government-owned company – a contract with government?
It is unfair for the Bodden Town voters to not know the ramifications of the situation. They don’t want to waste their votes and they deserve, at the very least, to be told what would happen if Mr. Scotland or Mr. Seymour is elected.
We urge the attorney general to a least give an opinion on this matter, rather than passing the buck to the courts as well.