Critical election dates set
Whether Cayman Islands’ voters will choose 15 or 18 members of the Legislative Assembly during the upcoming general elections is a matter of uncertainty.
At a media briefing on Thursday, Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez and Deputy Supervisor Colford Scott noted some problems that could arise ahead of the May 2013 balloting.
“At the moment, the number of seats to be filled is 15,” Mr. Scott said. “The Constitution says 18 seats.” Specifically, the Constitution does say that the assembly shall have 18 elected members, but this provision does not go into effect until the current assembly is dissolved.
“We are in a peculiar position,” Mr. Scott said, referring to the Elections Office. “We have no authority to proceed along the basis of the 2009 Constitution … We’re missing some tools to implement everything that is said in the 2009 Constitution.”
He and Mr. Gomez suggested that the number of seats to be filled would be difficult to change after what are known as writs for election are issued.
The writs for election are issued to the returning officer for a specific electoral district. But at the moment, there is no order in place for the determination of electoral district boundaries upon the next dissolution of the assembly, Mr. Scott said.
The Electoral Boundaries Commission Report of 2010, which contains several alternative recommendations for the placement of 18 MLA seats, has not yet been dealt with by the legislature.
Asked about deferring the increase to 18 seats until elections in 2017, Mr. Scott suggested that permission would have to come from Privy Council; the same body that advised the Queen on the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009. In one respect, the task of the Elections Office is straightforward. “When we get the writs of election, we follow the writs,” Mr. Gomez declared.
The timetable for Cayman’s next scheduled election includes several critical dates for both candidates and voters, with Wednesday, 12 December, set as the official launch of the May 2013 general elections for members of the Legislative Assembly.
The December date is when Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor will issue writs to returning officers requiring them to hold nominations and, if necessary, an election for their electoral district.
The next important date in the election process is 2 January, the last day for eligible people to register if they want to vote in the general elections on Wednesday, 22 May.
The Legislative Assembly will be dissolved on Tuesday, 26 March, followed by a proclamation the next day declaring general elections. Nomination day – the only day on which candidates may be officially nominated – is Wednesday, 27 March.
Meanwhile, officials are doing their best to encourage everyone who qualifies to get registered if they have not already done so. The absolute deadline is midnight on Wednesday, 2 January, but Mr. Gomez urged people not to wait until the last minute.
Since a registration campaign was launched on 1 September, 537 new voters have been added to the list. Of that number, 281 forms have been taken into the Elections Office at the Smith Road Centre. Registration outside supermarkets on Saturdays has been “a little slower than we thought it would be, but if we extend the franchise to one person, it will be worth it,” Mr. Gomez said. The Saturday initiative continues until 1 December.
In addition, a candidate’s election kit has been prepared and it contains the various laws, forms and advisories pertaining to election, including qualifications, agents and expenses. The kit includes a DVD. Two training and briefing sessions will be scheduled prior to election day. The kit is $125 and may be obtained from the Elections Office.