Members of the political advocacy group Coalition for Cayman have accused Cayman Islands Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin of being “inaccurate and misleading” in stating his support for the “one man, one vote” initiative, which the coalition is now trying to implement ahead of the May 2013 general election.
The coalition group pointed out in a statement to the Caymanian Compass on Wednesday that several members of Mr. McLaughlin’s People’s Progressive Movement party were instrumental in leading the effort to enact “one man, one vote” in the Cayman Islands. They included PPM members Alva Suckoo, Marco Archer, Wayne Panton, Woody DaCosta and Kenneth Bryan – all of whom are seeking elected office in May.
However, Mr. McLaughlin was late to the “one man, one vote” party, according the coalition statement.
“Not having been involved in the ‘one man, one vote’ efforts himself until the very last day due to public pressure and only after all of the work had been done by concerned citizens,” the coalition statement read, “it is not necessarily surprising that he is a bit out of touch on this issue and his views on the need for change are consistent with his leadership style.”
Mr. McLaughlin said it was not he who was late on the “one man, one vote” issue.
The opposition leader noted that in 2002, Coalition for Cayman co-chairman James Bergstrom wrote a letter to the Caymanian Compass in opposition to the proposal for “one man, one vote”, at least in the scenario where it is applied to single member voting districts as was suggested in the July 2012 referendum.
The letter was republished following a request to do so on 26 April, 2012, in the Compass, just a few months prior to the “one man, one vote” referendum.
“I do not think that dissecting the Islands into 17 segments is the answer,” Mr. Bergstrom wrote.
“One disadvantage will be that each representative will owe his or her position to a small body of persons, such that each representative will be trying to press for special projects so that at election time he has something to show the small body and say ‘look what I have done for you’.”
Mr. Bergstrom’s letter clearly stated that he was against the current electoral system used in the Cayman Islands because it was “flawed”, giving voters in more populous electoral districts more votes than those in smaller electoral districts.
Rather, the coalition co-chairman suggested that 15 representatives – as existed at the time – could be elected in a different fashion; having seven chosen from the districts and the remaining eight representatives chosen from among all the voters.
“As a result, each voter would have equal voting rights; a right to return a ‘district representative’ and eight ‘Island representatives’,” Mr. Bergstrom wrote, adding that other suggestions would be welcome to get the discussion going.
“What is it that they really want?” Mr. McLaughlin asked. “The real [Coalition for Cayman] needs to stand up.
Are they seeking to derail the elections process?”
Mr. McLaughlin said the only way to change Cayman’s current multimember voting district system now would be to postpone the May election for a significant period of time. As of press time Wednesday,
Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor’s office had given no indication that it would even consider doing so, if asked. However, elections office administrators said Wednesday that changing the country’s voting system by 27 March, nomination day for election candidates, would be “impossible”.
“The date of the election and what voting system we use ought not to be the issue at this point,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
The coalition statement noted that Mr. McLaughlin’s promise to implement a “one man, one vote” system was “interesting” and “the best example of electioneering considering Mr. McLaughlin had the opportunity to ensure the implementation as one of the architects of the 2009 Constitution”.
“He failed to include single-member constituencies in the constitution,” the statement read. “We hope he will have the courage to change his mind and support our call for single member constituencies in time for the May 2013 elections.”