Governor Duncan Taylor’s office said Friday that Mr. Taylor was considering a government motion that will push back voter registration for the upcoming May general election for another few weeks.
Cayman Islands Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly got unanimous support Thursday for a motion seeking to extend Cayman’s voter registration deadline to 31 January ahead of the 22 May general election.
However, it is Governor Duncan Taylor who will have the last word on the matter. Mr. Taylor had not responded directly to comments on the motion that passed the Legislative Assembly Thursday afternoon.
“Based on information that we’ve received there are probably still another 3,000-plus voters who opted not to [register] for various reasons,” Premier O’Connor-Connolly said, adding that she had written to Governor Taylor seeking to extend the previous 2 January voter registration deadline. The governor indicated he wanted evidence that members of the Legislative Assembly supported such a move.
According to Elections Office estimates, roughly 3,000 new voters have registered since the last referendum election held in Cayman in July 2012. That will bring the total number of voters to somewhere around 18,000 – a 20 per cent increase from a year ago.
It does appear there is general legislative support for extending the deadline to the end of this month.
Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said Thursday that his People’s Progressive Movement party would support the extension as long as the Elections Office could get everything it needed to done in time.
“We may have to make some amendments to the Elections Law or some of the regulations,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Assuming that those issues can be resolved … so that we don’t get in problems with nomination day, we want the governor to know that this has our full support.”
There are some issues with the timing of how voter lists are verified going forward, if the registration is re-opened and the deadline pushed back until the end of January.
According to the current schedule, 22 January is the date that the revised voter list must be publicised for review. Twenty-one days later, on 12 February, voters who feel they should have been included on the list or individuals who feel certain voters should not be on the list must file claims or objections to the list.
On 5 March, the deadline is set for the public notice of settling of any claims and objections and 12 March is the last day for settling those matters.
Nomination day for those seeking public office is set for 27 March.
As of 1 April, according to the current schedule, the register of electors list for the second quarter 2013 – the one to be used for the 22 May general election – will officially come into force.
It was not immediately clear how pushing back the voter registration deadline would affect any of those dates now contained in the Elections Law.
East End MLA Arden McLean said more should be done to simplify the registration process, particularly for younger voters.
“It’s so onerous to get registered,” he said. “We need to make it as easy as possible. However, the responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the citizens of this country, who become eligible to vote once they turn 18 years of age.”
West Bay MLA McKeeva Bush also said his four-member United Democratic Party supported the registration deadline extension.
“We don’t want to disenfranchise anyone, and so we offer our support to the motion,” he said.