Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush shocked the territory last week by announcing a referendum on single-member constituencies will be held on Wednesday, 18 July. Previously, Mr. Bush had said a referendum on the issue would be held, but in tandem with the next general elections, most likely in May 2013.
With the referendum now slated for July, it means with passage that the next elections could occur under a new system of single-member constituencies.
The decision comes in the face of a petition for referendum that was reportedly signed by more than 3,000 registered voters. Although some of the supporters for single-member constituencies have welcomed Mr. Bush’s decision to hold the referendum in advance of the next general elections, others have found reason to complain because Mr. Bush said the referendum will be held in July instead of November, when they preferred it to happen. Some of Mr. Bush’s detractors have even suggested the July date was selected because many people will be away on vacation and therefore won’t have the opportunity to vote.
We think that’s nonsense and we support the July date.
First of all, if voting in the referendum is important to someone who’s planning a vacation in July, they can always cast an absentee ballot. It might be a bit of hassle, but whoever said that participatory democracy must be convenient to everyone?
People are also complaining that the referendum will be held on a Wednesday and it won’t be a public holiday. People all over the world juggle busy work schedules to vote, and we’re not sure why voting here must be predicated on having a paid day off of work. As it is, there will be an additional public holiday this year to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee and another paid holiday would just cause additional strain on business owners, not to mention the public service.
Most of the voting stations are at schools and by having the referendum in July, when schools are closed, there is no need for another public holiday.
However, we would suggest that a Saturday is a better day for the referendum. This would not only put less stress on a majority of employers, but would also make it easier for a majority of voters to cast ballots.