By Tuesday afternoon, the Cayman Islands Elections Office was still not able to confirm a final ballot list for the 2013 general election and had not clarified what election rules would apply to the provision of refreshments at political meetings.
According to Elections Office Supervisor Kearney Gomez, at least one Bodden Town candidate – People’s National Alliance member Richard Christian – would not be allowed to stand for election.
“That’s the determination of the returning officer. If [Mr. Christian] wants to challenge that decision, he’ll have to apply for judicial review,” Mr. Gomez said.
Mr. Christian said he would release a statement about his candidacy on Tuesday; by press time it had not arrived.
“[The Elections Office] gave me seven days to appeal its decision, we have until Thursday,” he said.
There were also eligibility issues raised with regard to at least one other candidate seeking office in Cayman Brac and Mr. Gomez said the Elections Office was still awaiting information in that case from the attorney general.
Mr. Gomez said, due to the outstanding questions, his office could not complete the printing of postal ballots or to set the final list of names. The postal ballots are due to be issued Friday.
Also not addressed were statements made last week concerning whether refreshments could be served during political events or whether that might be considered tantamount to food being used to buy votes.
Mr. Gomez said meetings had been held all day Tuesday with relevant government officials and that a statement was expected to be made sometime on Wednesday concerning those provisions. A news conference set to discuss election offences on Tuesday that had been tentatively set last week was cancelled.
The confusion over the issue led at least one George Town candidate to cancel catering for a public meeting held last week, only to realise that another political group had its event catered that same night with no apparent legal repercussions.
“Treating” under the Elections Law (2009 Revision) is defined as an offence for “every person who corruptly … provides or pays, wholly or in part, the expenses of giving or providing any food, drink, entertainment or provision to or for any persons for the purpose of corruptly influencing that person, or any other person, to vote or refrain from voting at such election … and every elector who corruptly accepts or takes any such food, drink, entertainment or provision”.
Providing food and drink at political events is a fairly standard practice in the Cayman Islands and in most of the Caribbean. Both major political parties and the Coalition for Cayman political group have provided food at events that could be described as “political” in recent months and many of those attending those events did partake of such refreshment.
Mr. Gomez offered no comment about the practice on Tuesday afternoon.