Six districts will return a total of 18 representatives
Returning officers for the six electoral districts of the Cayman Islands received writs on Wednesday that signalled the official start of the general elections to be held on 22 May.
The writs, signed and presented by Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor, require each returning officer to begin the nomination of candidates on Wednesday, 27 March, at a specified place in each district.
If the number of candidates nominated exceeds the number of seats that district has in the Legislative Assembly, the writ requires the officer to hold an election on 22 May – the date already announced for elections.
Deputy Supervisor of Elections Colford Scott said the Elections Law had been amended by the legislature on Monday as a result of the constitutional requirement for 18 representatives instead of the existing 15. George Town will have six members of the Legislative Assembly instead of four and Bodden Town will have four MLAs instead of three. Mr. Scott said the amendment was gazetted on Wednesday morning.
Mr. Taylor said elections are the cornerstone of a democracy and Election Day is for the people of the Cayman Islands to have their say by electing those who will represent their interests. Having observed the efficient way in which the July 2012 referendum was conducted, he expressed confidence that the May elections would go well also.
Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez said the 2013 general elections will be the swan song for him, Mr. Scott and Deputy Supervisor Orrett Connor. He said he didn’t know about Ernie Scott, the deputy supervisor based in Cayman Brac.
Mr. Gomez’s role as supervisor of elections was subject to debate in the Legislative Assembly on Monday, when East End independent MLA Arden McLean questioned whether the Cayman Islands was leaving itself open to a judicial review on the election process by allowing three retired public servants – Mr. Gomez, Mr. Scott, who retired as managing director of the National Roads Authority Board in 2007, and Cabinet Secretary Mr. Connor, who is due to retire in January – to head up the Elections Office.
The Elections Law (2009 Revision) states that the governor shall appoint a senior public officer to be supervisor of elections and appoint as many as three public officers to be deputy supervisors.
Responding to those concerns in the House on Monday, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin said Mr. Gomez was given an underlying appointment to the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, which qualifies him as a public officer and as such he had been asked to continue as the elections supervisor.
Following debate, the majority of lawmakers voted in favour of amending the Elections Law. The amendments, which enabled the governor to issue the writs of election, were made just two days before the deadline to change Cayman’s election legislation prior to the May 2013 general election.
Upon receipt of the writs Wednesday, Mr. Gomez thanked the returning officers and deputies for volunteering their services. Referring to his own involvement for 32 years, he said some election workers had been with him all that time. “We have done it flawlessly,” he declared. “Never any challenge, never any irregularity.”
Mr. Gomez said those results came about through teamwork and “we have a fantastic team”.
The job ahead includes making sure new candidates as well as veterans are familiar with provisions of the Elections Law and helping the electorate understand procedures.
District Returning Officers
Edward (Ned) Solomon
Cayman Brac and Little Cayman