Advice: Constitutional change needed before election

Gov may need Order-in-Council

Cayman Islands Attorney General Sam Bulgin advised lawmakers Monday that a constitutional change would have to be made to ensure that the upcoming May election results are considered legally valid.

In a letter to Cayman legislators, Mr. Bulgin stated that the change to Constitution section 92 would have to be put into effect via Orders-in-Council from the UK government, given the current time constraints.

However, Governor Duncan Taylor has requested that some indication is given by local lawmakers as to whether they would support changing the relevant section through UK orders. That consent is not legally required for an Order-in-Council. However, Mr. Taylor has said that conventions require such a change to be done only “where it is clear that it enjoys wide support from the elected representatives”.

Constitution Order 2009 Section 92(1) reads: “Any person who is registered as an elector in an electoral district shall, while so registered, be entitled to vote at any election in that district for an elected member of the Legislative Assembly…”

The phrase “an elected member” has given rise to claims that the drafters of the Constitution intended that electors only be allowed to vote for one candidate. Mr. Bulgin has said that he does not believe that to be the case.

“I am of the opinion that notwithstanding the fact that the current wording could survive a legal challenge, it is more advisable to proactively seek to avert any such potential challenge, which could conceivably be protracted and expensive,” Mr. Bulgin wrote. “I am of the view that it is desirable that such an amendment be effected prior to the upcoming general elections.”

The issue was hotly debated during the run up to the July 2012 referendum on the ‘one man, one vote’, single-member constituencies voting system.

During the debate, North Side MLA Ezzard Miller – a member of one of Cayman’s two current single-member voting districts – said that he believes the 2009 Constitution Order mandates the “one man, one vote” principle, because of Section 92(1)

Mr. Miller sought a legal opinion on the issue from the attorney general. 

Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin, an attorney, said at the time that he disagreed with Mr. Miller’s interpretation of the Constitution regarding single-member districts, although he said the opposition People’s Progressive Movement does support the “one man, one vote” principle.

 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. While they’re at it, they should do amendments like people being able to recall or remove an MLA or the Premier if they lost confidence in him. Why have them wait for 4 years to put up with a demigod on power?

    I think there needs to be a careful examination of our Constitution relating to people-participatory democracy. We have little of that here.

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  2. Why has Bulgin ewaited until the last minute when his opinion was requested last July?
    Why amend the constitution now to eliminate OMOV? Will you have to amend the constitution again if OMOV passes later on?

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