Officials with the Cayman Islands Elections Office have estimated upward of 18,000 people could be voting by the May general elections.
That would represent a significant increase from the more than 15,000 voters now registered in Cayman.
However, a group formed on the social networking site Facebook called “Cayman United” said it believes that number should actually be closer to 25,000 people judging by government population figures.
“Information contained within the 2010 Statistical Compendium suggests there are more than 25,000 members of our community who possess the right to vote,” the group noted in a statement issued last week. “Sadly, only 15,000 of us are registered to do so.”
According to Cayman United, there are two main reasons for the low number of registered voters. First, the under-registration of younger voters and second, a potential misunderstanding of who can register to vote in the territory.
Section 90 of the 2009 Constitution Order states that a person is entitled to be registered as an elector if he or she is a Caymanian, has attained 18 years of age, is resident in the Cayman Islands at the date of registration and has been resident for a period or periods amounting to not less than two years out of the previous four years.
Anyone who was entitled to be registered before the new constitution came into effect is still entitled to register. Anyone who is not yet 18 on the day a writ is issued for an election, but who will turn 18 on or before the polling date may register if he or she is otherwise qualified.
If the applicant possesses Caymanian status, he or she should submit a birth certificate and a copy of the letter of certificate of status. Caymanian status grantees, under the 2009 Constitution, need not possess British Overseas Territories citizenship to register to vote.
“Only 15,000 of us are registered to [vote],” the Cayman United group stated. “This trend is exacerbated within the population of younger Caymanians as the Elections Office ascertains the number of registered voters below the age of thirty is 1,689, a mere 11 per cent of the total number of electors. This number can, and should, be nearing 5,000.”
The group based its number of potential voters on government statistics; those were not confirmed independently by the Elections Office when the Caymanian Compass spoke to officials there last month.
“Cayman United, along with another group of concerned citizens, shall be launching a drive for voter registration in the coming weeks,” the group stated.
Coupled with the voter registration drive, the group also said it plans to present the sitting government with a proposal for the overhaul of the territory’s immigration practices.
No specific proposals were made on this front in the Cayman United group’s statement.
“This proposal will focus on further empowering the youth of Cayman through innovative policies which stress the importance of education and further skills development for those of us who have met the unfortunate circumstances of unemployment. Additionally, we will propose ways in which the financial burden of government levied on small businesses can be lessened so that our economy may once again flourish.”
The current government is in receipt of a report that recommended major changes to the Immigration Law, including the abolishment of key employee status – which allows foreign workers to remain in the Islands long enough to apply for permanent residents. Rather, the Term Limit Review Committee’s proposals said the government should allow anyone who has stayed in Cayman between seven and eight years to apply for permanent resident status.
It has also recommended that the current seven-year term limit on foreign workers’ residence should be expanded to 10 years.
The ruling United Democratic Party government has not formally accepted or agreed to all the proposals contained in the review committee’s report.