Only North Side ‘officially’ approved referendum

It may seem a strange thing that Wednesday’s referendum voting yielded a 65 per cent “yes” response from those who participated, but will only be considered advisory to the Cayman Islands government going forward.  

However, constitutional rules allow for the requirement that 50 per cent plus one vote of all registered electors must say “yes” on the item for it to be considered legally binding on the government.  

So with 8,677 people voting on Wednesday, according to unofficial election returns, securing a 50 per cent plus one vote or 7,582 “yes” votes would have needed an 87 per cent favourable vote. Instead, “yes” voters only made it to 65 per cent.  

When viewed in the context of what the referendum requirement actually was, only one voting district in the Cayman Islands – North Side – met the 50 per cent plus one tally of registered voters.  

North Side had 61 per cent of all its registered voters – 335 “yes” votes out of 551 eligible to cast ballots – say “yes” to the “one man, one vote” referendum.  

Cayman’s other already existing single-member voting district, East End, got 44 per cent of all its registered voters to support the referendum. Some 257 of 588 registered voters in East End backed “one man, one vote”/single-member districts.  

None of the other four Cayman Islands voting districts, all of which are multimember constituencies with between two and four elected representatives, got more than 40 per cent of their total registered voters to choose “yes” in the referendum.  

George Town had 40 per cent registered voters select “yes”, meaning 2,360 people in Cayman’s largest voting district supported “one man, one vote”.  

Similarly, Bodden Town had a 40 per cent “yes” tally among all registered voters with 1,396 supporting the referendum.  

West Bay, the political stronghold of Premier McKeeva Bush, saw just 28 per cent of its registered voters say “yes” during Wednesday’s vote; just more than 1,000 people. 

Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, the home of Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, had an even lower 27 per cent of all registered voters say “yes” – 256 out of 959 people.  


‘No’ votes 

Looking at “no” votes for the referendum in the same manner, no voting district came anywhere close to achieving a 50 per cent plus one majority of registered voters.  

The closest “no” vote on the referendum issue would have been West Bay, where 29 per cent of all registered voters opposed the referendum. In Cayman Brac, only 21 per cent of registered voters said “no” to the referendum.  

In the other districts, the “no” votes didn’t even reach 20 per cent of all registered voters.  

George Town saw 17 per cent of those registered vote “no” in the referendum; Bodden Town had about 18 per cent of all its voters say “no”. In East End, only 13 per cent of registered voters cast “no” ballots while only 10 per cent of registered North Side voters said “no”. 


  1. It is misleading to simply say constitutional rules allow for the requirement that 50 per cent plus one vote of all registered electors must say yes on the item for it to be considered legally binding on the government. This might leave the reader with the impression that the constitution requires that standard.

    This was a government initiated referendum under section 69 of the constitution. The constitution is silent as to what standard is required for such a referendum to pass.

    The government could specify any standard in a law authoring a government initiated referendum. The government could have specified a 50% of all votes cast standard in the enabling legislation.

  2. Blue Iguana is absolutely correct. It is misleading to say constitutional rules allow for the requirement that 50 per cent plus one vote of all registered electors must say yes. The fact is that was a matter for the government to determine and the only precedent of a govt-initiated referendum we had locally was the 2009 Constitution referendum which required the support of a majority of those voting.

    In any other country the referendum would have been legally binding if it gathered the support of 65% of those voting on a turnout of 58%. The result of last year’s referendum on the UK voting system was regarded as overwhelming even though there was a 68%-32% split on a turnout of 41% which meant that only 28% of all registered voters determined the issue as opposed to 37% of all registered voters supporting the referendum here.

    The real story here is that West Bay was alone in rejecting the referendum and that by a thin margin of 26 votes.

    The Constitution should be amended so there is no question of allowing for, or rather not expressly prohibiting, a requirement for a majority of all registered voters for a govt. initiated referendum. The same should apply for a people-initiated referendum.

    Editor’s note: The report is factually correct. The constitution does allow for the manner in which this referendum was handled.

  3. Was not the goal of the petition for the OMOV movement to force a Peoples Initiated Referendum ? Which would require 50% Plus one to become legally binding. And from what I remember Bush decided to give them what they wanted because of all the hoopla surrounding the petition. Even Miller said Bush caved in to the pressure and decided to give them what they wanted which was a peoples initiated referendum. So why are people complaining ? Am I missing something.

  4. Editor, I didn’t say that the article was factually incorrect I said it was misleading. If I make a statement that gives only part of the relevant facts it is factually correct but it is potentially misleading. The article went straight to justifying the decision to require a majority of registered voters without bothering to say that the government made that decision. A casual reader might understand that it was not the government’s decision. Also, saying that the Constitution allows it might suggest that s.69 specifically says that such a majority is permitted while in fact it is silent on the point.

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