There is virtually no hope that the “one man, one vote” election system will be implemented prior to the 22 May general election in the Cayman Islands.
Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, a one-time member of the political party that opposed the move to single-member constituencies, left the door open Thursday for “one man, one vote”, although she would not state whether her group would support or oppose the movement.
“Is our team thinking about it? As a team, which is forward-going, we think about the pulse of the public and we think about it because it’s rose its head,” Ms O’Connor-Connolly said. “Will it come up in the future, will we be ready for it? Absolutely.”
However, Ms O’Connor-Connolly indicated there was little chance of changing the territory’s election system now; a change that would actually have to take place by the end of March – prior to candidate declarations.
She also referenced the failed referendum held last July, when a ballot measure supporting a change to “one man, one vote” did not gain approval from more than 50 per cent of the registered voters in the Cayman Islands.
“The outcome was that there would not be ‘one man, one vote’ for this particular time,” Ms O’Connor-Connolly said. “Anything is possible. Practical, between now and the prorogation of the House? I would not think so.”
Other members of the Legislative Assembly opined on the “one man, one vote” issue Thursday afternoon during the Cayman Business Outlook conference, held at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said he supported the concept of “one man, one vote”, but said he did not support changing the voting system ahead of the May general election.
“The reason that really compels me … is the principle of equity,” Mr. McLaughlin said, referring to the fact that under the current system George Town district voters would get six votes, while East End and North Side voters would only get one vote.
Deputy Premier Rolston Anglin said that while it might be easier for elected officials to represent the smaller districts single-member constituencies might create, he said there was no reason to expect that single-member districts would suddenly create better accountability within government.
“The executive [branch] of this country … is truly a winner-take-all,” Mr. Anglin said. “One man, one vote’ will do nothing to change that.
“We continue to shun … the real issue at hand; what gets us a better democracy?”
George Town MLA Ellio Solomon, who also opposes the “one man, one vote” measure, said he thought there was a greater chance of corruption occurring in smaller political districts and that other proposals could address concerns about equality of voting.
“If your concern is equality of voting, give them 18 votes,” Mr. Solomon said, referring to his earlier plan to making voting for office-holders territory-wide. “I believe this country is small enough and can offer the type of representatives you need.”
Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor’s office had given no indication that it would even consider changing the voting system, if asked. However, elections office administrators said last week that changing the territory’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.