A look at One Man, One Vote

The decision to change a country’s voting system has far reaching political consequences that should not be taken lightly. And when we as citizens are asked to make critical decisions like this, it is important to make our choices based on facts, rather than emotion.

The One Man, One Vote has become an emotive issue that is dividing our community. Lines have been drawn on the basis of political orientation, and as one would expect in any political debate there are two sides – those that are for and those that are against. But behind all of the emotion and political rhetoric – what are the facts?

According to the advocates of the OMOV/Single-Member Constituency; this system will guarantee better “equality, accountability and fairness”; and it will introduce “a modern approach to political organisation and voting systems to the Cayman Islands”.

These are noble objectives for any country; however, if we accept these ideals as the reason to change our electoral system, then what we are clearly saying is that the current system of voting that we have used to elect successive governments for the past 40 years was flawed, unequal, and unfair.

But is that really the case? Are we saying that the electoral system that elected such stalwarts and statesmen as Mr. Cradock [Ebanks], Mr. Jim Bodden, Miss Annie, Mr. Benson [Ebanks] and Captain Mabry [Kirkconnell] is useless and outdated and now needs to be replaced?” Are we saying that our current electoral system which required these Members to cooperate and get along, for the good of the country – whichever side they were on; is no longer useful and relevant to modern-day Cayman? If we vote yes to the upcoming referendum, then we are clearly saying yes to all of these questions.

While our current electoral system is not without its share of flaws; it can be amended and improved, but the current referendum does not provide us with that option. In fact there are several different types of electoral systems that we could consider. Before we start tampering with something as important as our electoral system, perhaps we should all read and gather our information from objective nonpartisan sources, rather than acting on the basis of who shouts the loudest; or who we like and don’t like.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said; “The real safeguard of democracy is education.” Therefore we should educate ourselves before voting on the referendum. There are several good books and research papers that can help guide us to make the right decision.

One such book is “Behind the Ballot Box, A Citizen’s Guide to Voting Systems” by Douglas J. Amy, (Praeger Publishing, 2000). This book is a useful guide for anyone who wants to learn more about voting systems and their political implications. It gives readers all the information and analytical tools they need to make an intelligent choice among voting systems. It provides a set of political criteria that can be used to judge voting systems. It gives detailed descriptions of all the common voting systems used in the United States and other Western democracies, and provides an analysis of the various political advantages and disadvantages associated with each type of system. And most of all, it doesn’t have a viewpoint that is slanted by the PPM, UDP, CNS, Rooster or the OMOV proponents.

On the issue of Single-Member Constituency, the author, Douglas J. Amy agrees that SMC is good at ensuring that all local geographical areas have a voice in the legislature. However, on the other hand, he also cautions that it tends to reinforce the two-party system, produce manufactured majorities, encourage gerrymandering, discourage voter turnout, create high levels of wasted votes, and deny fair representation to third parties, racial minorities and women.

If academics like Amy can make these kind statements about the OMOV system – Is this really a more “modern approach to political organisation and voting?” Would this really represent an improvement in our democracy? How would Independent Candidates get elected in such a system?

Let’s now examine how the OMOV system would guarantee equality and fairness.

With the OMOV system, the winners need not collect a majority of the votes, only more votes than their opponents; so if candidate A receives 40 per cent of the vote, candidate B receives 35 per cent, and candidate C gets 25 per cent – candidate A wins the seat; but this would mean that 55 per cent of the electorate would not be represented by the candidate of their choice. How can this be considered “fair and equal?”

According to http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/One+man,+one+vote; the One Man, One Vote is a principle that was enunciated by the US Supreme Court in (Reynolds v. Sims, 1964) which stated that all citizens, regardless of where they reside in a state, were entitled to equal legislative representation. The Supreme Court ruled that a state’s apportionment plan for seats in both houses of a “bicameral state legislature” must allocate seats on a population basis so that the voting power of each voter be as equal as possible to that of any other voter.

Under our current electoral system we already have equal legislative representation – on the basis of district size, however, we do not yet have a bicameral legislature. Therefore, if the OMOV referendum is successful in July, will next step be a move to make changes to our current Constitution to introduce a bicameral legislature? Is this the real hidden agenda behind the OMOV movement or is it just an unexpected outcome?

Whenever we make our decisions based on the facts it will reduce the likelihood of unexpected outcomes. So here are some more facts on the origins of the OMOV. A quick look at Wikipedia reveals that “One Man, One Vote” is a slogan that has been used in many parts of the world in campaigns for “universal suffrage”, and it is particularly prevalent in “less developed countries”, during the “period of decolonisation and the struggles for national sovereignty”.

Is this the hidden 
political agenda behind the OMOV movement – to lead us on a fight for national sovereignty and toward decolonisation? Whilst I do not believe that many of the supporters of the OMOV are necessarily advocates of decolonisation, there is a possibility that their enthusiasm is being manipulated by some who seek to achieve a higher agenda. We are opening a Pandora’s Box, and I am not sure that enough research has yet been done to fully understand the pros and cons of this issue.

While no system is perfect, we certainly know what we have, but we sure don’t know what the heck we’re 
getting into!

Rudy Shellbun


  1. Rudy Shellbun do not appear to be a registered voter in Cayman. Rudy S states we should make decisions based on facts, but other than quoting from Doug Amy 12 year old book, now outdated, with his not at all empirical evidentiary statements, he gives us nothing to think about other than assumptions. One small point, in Y 2000, Cline Glidden was elected with less than 31% of the ballots cast. We did not have smc then, so how do you conlude that this to be a disadvantage of OMOV in SMC? Our voting system that elected Jim B, Benson E, MaCkeeva and so forth is broken, and has been for a long time, it continually gets worse and our young people should be applauded for puttng this on the agenda. The problem is that we are so used to one system that we can not bear to adopt a new system. This is a natural instinct of human beings. We seem to believe that the old way is the best way and it will get better. Rudy S, who is not a registered voter is lost in time and now appears to have gone well past his shelf life.

  2. The OMOV advocates are not being totally honest with the Caymanian constituents while pushing them to support the OMOV petition.
    The one man one vote will put xpats in control of our politics. We are already outnumbered by them 2 to 1 or 3 to 1.
    They in turn will jump on the benefits of this OMOV and begin to build huge communities inside each and every one of these political boundaries.Xpat Leaders will emerge from those communities and they will elect their own and run this country.
    Get ready to become Indians on a reservation with this OMOV initiative.
    This is the type of voting system that allowed foreigners like the Cubans in America to run out the Americans and take over Miami Florida.

    This will happen in Cayman. Foreigners will take over the Legislative Assembly.
    The Cubans have been naturalized and are now Americans; BUT whose best interest do they look out for? It is globally known, THEMSELVES’ CUBANS’ AND NO ONE ELSE! They have the political power! and control all the jobs, Americans are begging for Jobs in America. Is that what we want in Cayman?

    Foreigners are now controlling our government making many demands immigration wise. Having more political power, xpats will look out for themselves in Cayman under this OMOV and NOT CAYMANIANS we will for sure become Idians on a reservation.

    OMOV is only a quick fix to curtail the coat tail effect in West Bay.
    Is that all voters want out of the deal? You don’t want much I’m afraid. Better consider the national vote for candidates and the premier.
    The X-pat effect is going to be your waterloo, mark my word.
    OMOV will empower xpats as the bill of rights approach they will find a way to force the UK to force Cayman to soften up the qualifications for a candidate to be elected change our constitution, making it easier for them and harder for a Caymanian to get elected. The majority rules.
    It’s only a short term fix with serious long term consequences. We will lose our identity and lose our political power and our country.

  3. @Liverpool. You are trying to stir up xenophobic hysteria by making blatantly false statements. Is there no tactic too low for anti-OMOV campaigners? OMOV has nothing to do with putting expats in charge of our politics and I suspect you know better. Exactly how would it allow foreigners to take over the LA? OMOV does not give expats any more rights than they have already. You are just spreading propaganda and you have the nerve to start your post about people not being honest about OMOV.

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