Referendum: Yes and no

Referendum  Yes or No

 

 

By early Thursday morning, it appeared a referendum that aimed to change the Cayman Islands’ voting system would pass with a large majority of voters who participated.  

However, despite the significant majority of Cayman Islands voters backing the ‘one man, one vote’ referendum question, the “yes” votes were not nearly enough to achieve the “magic number” of 7,582 needed to legally bind the government to enact the single member district voting system.  

With all the votes counted, tallies were roughly 65 per cent saying “yes” to the referendum and supporting ‘one man, one vote’. Around 35 per cent of the voters said “no” to the question.  

The only voting district to reject the referendum question 
was West Bay.  

In George Town, 2,360 “yes” votes were recorded compared to 993 “no” votes: 70 per cent in favour of the referendum question.  

In East End, 257 voters said “yes” and 79 said “no”; a 76 per cent majority in favour of the referendum.  

In North Side, 335 voters said “yes” and 56 said “no” to the referendum; nearly an 86 per 
cent majority in favour.  

In Cayman Brac, the vote was closer; 256 voters said “yes” and 203 voted “no”; a 56 per cent majority in favour of ‘one 
man, one vote’.  

Results for West Bay that came in later in the evening had voters there narrowly rejecting the referendum question with 1,027 “yes” votes to 1,053 “no” votes. The ‘yes’ votes only got 49 per 
cent in West Bay.  

In Bodden Town, there were 1,396 “yes” votes and 617 “no” votes; a 69 per cent majority for the ‘one man’ supporters.  

While the voting results were encouraging for supporters of the referendum, the turnout on Wednesday’s balloting was not.  

The final vote count was 8,677 votes cast in total, including postal and mobile ballots. That’s about a 57 per cent turnout. 

There were 45 invalid or rejected ballots included in 
that total.  

According to the elections office, 8,118 voters turned up at the polls between 7am and 6pm Wednesday. Added to that were 293 mobile voters and a few hundred 
postal ballots.  

The number is significant for the referendum. It means that at least 7,582 people voted – the minimum number of “yes” votes or “no” votes that would have to be received for the ‘one man, one vote’ referendum to be binding on government. That number represents 50 per cent plus one of all eligible voters in the Cayman Islands.  

However, with just more than 8,600 of 15,161 possible votes cast, either side of the issue would have had to obtain somewhere around 90 per cent favourable votes to win the day. Since they did not, the referendum will be considered only “advisory” to government.  

In the end, the “yes” votes 
comprised only 37 per cent of registered voters in the Cayman Islands while “no” votes made up just 20 per cent of registered voters.  

 

Premier’s reaction 

Premier McKeeva Bush, whose United Democratic Party government campaigned against the ‘one man, one vote’ referendum, told a crowd of about 50 people in George Town after the final results came in that “the results are binding, the referendum has failed”.  

He said the constitution plainly stated that, to reach a majority, 50 per cent plus one of the total electorate would have to vote yes, and that had not happened. Therefore, even if the majority of people who cast ballots voted yes, according to the constitution, the no vote prevailed. 

The premier added that the people of Cayman had “said clearly that this country has other more urgent and important national issues than single member constituencies”. 

Mr. Bush later told reporters that his government would give no further consideration to the possibility of single member constituencies. “Why should we?” he asked. 

He admitted that he would have liked to have seen more people vote no in the referendum, but said he had expected a low turnout all along. 

Proponents 

While those who were helping to push one man one vote weren’t pleased with the results, they were happy about the number of ‘yes’ votes. 

“I believe we have a clear indication now that the majority of people who are interested in the issued would prefer a system of single-member constituencies with one man, one vote,” said Opposition Leader Alden McLaughin. “I am very encouraged by the results in West Bay. It was almost even. 

“If the system had been fair, if the referendum process as indicated by the Government had been fair, I have no doubt it would have been successful. 

“If we were dealing with a situation that required more than 50 per cent of the votes cast, if we had a campaign that was fair and in which the Government had engaged in an education process rather than using the people’s money – public funds – in a campaign for the no vote, then we would have had a very different result. 

“I am not encouraged by the turnout.  

I am very encouraged by the results, particularly the results in West Bay, which is the stronghold of the UDP and has 
been for the last three elections. 

“I think the electorate has been done a great injustice by the way the referendum process was structured and the campaign conducted.” 

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller was happy with the large turnout in his district. 

“I am grateful and satisfied that the good people of North Side came and exercised their democratic privilege. I am also pleased that such a large majority voted ‘yes’. I look forward to continuing to work with and for the people of North Side to improve our community and Cayman,” Mr. Miller said. 

The Caymanian Compass contacted representatives of the One Man One Vote Committee for comment late Wednesday. Committee members indicated a statement was “being prepared”. The newspaper had received no statement from the group by press time.  

 

Cayman Brac 

Sister Islands District Commissioner Ernie Scott flew to Grand Cayman with ballots from those two Islands Wednesday 

There are 959 registered voters on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman; only 461 turned 
out to vote. 

The vote, Mr. Scott said, was “Pretty much incident free.” 

While it got off to a fairly slow start, voters began turning out in numbers between 8am and 8.30am.  

“The turnout was very low,” he told Radio Cayman last night. “People just didn’t show.” 

Counting of ballots began at 7.35pm Wednesday and was finished at 8.22pm. 

 

Compass journalists Carol Winker, Norma Connolly, Patrick Brendel and Tammie C. Chisholm contributed to this story.  

Bus Ballott

Ballot boxes arrive at headquarters after polls closed to voting on Wednesday. – Photo: Norma Connolly
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9 COMMENTS

  1. More insanity. Why require 50% of the total population to pass a referendum. If voters are so apathetic that they won’t turn up then they should forfeit their right to determine the outcome. If you really care about your country (and actions speak so much louder than words) you’d get off your behind and put in a vote. The fact that over 40% wouldn’t make the effort speaks volumes.

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  2. The results of the referendum is a (NO) according to our constitution, and our constitution rules..

    Even seeking passage by a super majority of 3/4 voters saying yes would not have seen passage according to the results.

    So no it is, lets continue to improve the system we have so that all citizens are equally and fairly represented. I am just saying..

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  3. Interesting story. It is unfortunate however that the reporter incorrectly stated that a total of 50% plus one was required to legally bind the government. There is no such provision in law in Cayman. That is not what it says in the Constitution.

    The only time that the 50% plus one comes into play is if the referendum is a brought about by a petition of citizens handed in to the Cabinet – a so-called people-initiated referendum as referred to in section 70 of the Constitution.

    This was a government referendum and the customary standard in relation to government referenda in England and everywhere else in the Commonwealth is a majority of votes cast. That is also the way our new Constitution was brought in.

    The 50% plus one that the Premier says applies is nothing more than the politrix of the current government. No where does our Constitution say that is what is required in a government sponsored referendum.

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  4. Hey My2cents,

    It is with just and sound reasoning that 50%1 of the registered electorate is required to enact change on an issue of this magnitude. I have personally supported the Government’s position on having this high bar set to change an electoral system that has been with us for 180 years. To change our electoral system it must be unmistakably clear that the majority of registered voters would want to see this change by voting yes (not the majority that shows up to vote). Not having a high bar set would very likely leave us vulnerable to Special Interest Groups, and/ or Political Parties bringing about frivolous, and costly referendums that can be quite disruptive to the daily operations of the Incumbent Government, and citizens of our country.
    It is quite fair that the heavy burden to change our electoral system should rest on the yes voters, for the mere reason that they are the ones seeking to change the electoral system that our Islands have evolved with for almost two centuries.It should be presumed, that majority is satisfied with the current voting process unless the majority (50% 1 of the registered electorate) say otherwise by exercising there democratic right to vote yes.

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  5. @Caymanian-on-guard

    Please be clear that the Constitution did not require a majority of all registered electors for this referendum to be legally binding. The government brought this as a govt. initiated referendum under s. 69 of the Constitution and the govt. decided what the threshold would be in the Referendum Law it passed in May.

    That threshold is unrealistically high. In most countries, including the UK, a referendum is passed by a yes vote of the majority of those voting.

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  6. It seems to me that the current wording of the constitution makes it almost impossible to get a YES on any referendum question.

    Typically any vote has a large number of people not voting, either because they can’t be bothered or are off island.

    Since a successful YES vote requires over 50% of the electorate to vote YES, just not showing up counts as a NO vote.

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  7. IslandBoz has a good argument, no difference than in a Court of Law where the Burden of proof is on the is on prosecution to prove quilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It this case it would be OMOV who has the Burden of proof that the Majority of Caymanian Citizens support a change to OMOV and no matter how you look at it 5200 Votes does not..

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  8. Bodden

    The other topic isn’t taking any comments so I’m responding to your comments on this one.

    Your maths and stats are impressive but I’m not sure I agree with your logic that because that number of people didn’t vote, that they necessarily meant to influence the outcome with a NO vote, although that might have been the ultimate result.

    The truth is, many Caymanians simply don’t give a toss about certain political issues; this OMOV issue could very well be one of them.

    Will changing the voting system really change the way Caymanians assess and vote for candidates in an election ?

    Probably not, not with the way Caymanian culture and life is.

    Most Caymanians don’t care about national issues unless it affects their lives in a very personal way.

    They will vote for candidates, whether single or multiple, who they think will help them advance their own personal lives and ignore those who they think will not…simple as.

    With a younger, more educated and exposed population growing into voting age, you might find that gradually changing in the next generation…

    But for now, things will remain the way they are.

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