Electoral Boundary Commission appointed

The appointment of a Electoral Boundary Commission last week paves the way to the potential redrawing of electoral districts in the Cayman Islands.

The new constitution requires three additional elected members to be added to the Legislative Assembly, bringing the total to 18 members, but these new positions cannot be added until the commission rules from which voting districts they should come.

Acting Governor Donovan Ebanks on Friday announced the three appointments to the commission, as well as appointments to two other bodies established under the 2009 Constitution – the National Security Council and the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy.

It is anticipated that all three bodies will begin their work early in the New Year.

The three-person Electoral Boundary Commission will consist of chairman Carl Dundas, and members Norman Bodden and Adriannie Webb.

Under the constitution, the governor appoints the chairman and the other two appointees are made on the recommendation of the premier and the leader of the opposition respectively.

Opposition Member of the Legislative Assembly Alden McLaughlin confirmed that the People’s Progressive Movement had recommended Ms Webb for the position.

He said the Opposition had no objections to the appointments of the new boundary commission.

Former Governor Stuart Jack made the appointments before he left Cayman this month, but the official announcement was not made until Friday.

Mr. Dundas chaired 2003’s Electoral Boundary Commission, on which Ms Webb also sat. The 2003 commission had a mandate to draw up 17 single-member constituencies to replace the existing six constituencies. Its recommendations were ultimately not adopted.

Mr. Dundas was the first director of elections in Jamaica in 1979-80 and has worked in more than 30 countries in the Caribbean, Africa, and the Pacific on election management and electoral reform.

The main functions of the commission are to review the boundaries of the existing electoral districts and to make recommendations to the governor and the Legislative Assembly regarding any changes to the number of electoral districts in the Cayman Islands and the boundaries of the districts. Since the 2003 Electoral Boundary Commission report, the number of registered voters in the Cayman Islands has increased from 11,483 to 15,330.

Mr. Dundas is currently completing an assignment with the International Foundation for Election Systems in Ethiopia and is expected to begin his work in Cayman in the new year.

The work of the commission is expected to take three to six months, and will be subject to public consultations.

National Security Council

The National Security Council is a new body required by the constitution. The governor appointed Dan Scott and Brigitte Kirkconnell-Shaughness for a two-year, renewable period as the two representatives of civil society to serve on the body.

They will join permanent members of the council – the governor (chairman), the premier, two ministers appointed on the premier’s advice premier, the leader of the opposition or his designate, and three ex-officio members: the deputy governor, the attorney general, and the commissioner of police, who will provide regular briefings to the council.

The National Security Council will advise the governor on internal security, including matters relating to the police, but excluding operational or staffing matters that would prejudice current police operations.

Prerogative of Mercy

The acting governor announced four appointments to another new constitutional body, the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy – Beulah McField, Pastor Stanwyk Myles, Pastor Davelee Tibbetts, and Arek Joseph.

Its function is to advise the governor on the pardon or remission of prisoners. This is separate from advice the governor receives from the Parole Commissioner’s Board each quarter about parole decisions.

The advice of the advisory committee can be sought, for example, in relation to a remission of sentence because of the extraordinary medical circumstances of a prisoner.

The body consists also of three other ex-officio members – the governor (chairman), the attorney general, and the chief medical officer.