It seems both Cayman-based and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association observers will be used in the upcoming general election.
Elections Supervisor Kearney Gomez said Wednesday that his office planned to seek volunteers for roughly 10 local election observer positions that would fulfil essentially the same roles as foreign observers, but who would work separately from those groups.
“We have a distinct culture … so if you bring in international observers, they may not be familiar with our customs,” Mr. Gomez said. “Local election observers [are] something we need to embrace also.”
Locally based observers were used previously in the 2009 constitutional referendum and the 2012 referendum on the one man, one vote issue. However, neither international nor local observers have ever been used for a Cayman Islands general election.
Meanwhile, Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor has written the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association requesting that the group organise a team of observers for the Cayman Islands general election on 22 May.
The Election Observer Mission will be arranged and led by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, British Isles and Mediterranean Region. Andrew Tuggey, secretary to the association, has replied confirming that British Isles and Mediterranean Region will provide an Election Observer Mission, in partnership with Electoral Reform International Services, a not-for-profit organisation that provides support and advice on democratic processes around the world and with the Association of Caribbean Electoral Organisations.
Mr. Tuggey said the Election Observer Mission will be led by Mario Galea, a Member of Parliament in Malta since 1992, who has served several times on election observer missions. The observer team is likely to include up to 10 experienced and respected individuals from Commonwealth countries in the Mediterranean and Caribbean regions.
The costs of the mission will be met by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The British Minister for the Overseas Territories, Mark Simmonds, said he’s encouraged by the Cayman Islands government’s readiness to invite election observers. Mr. Simmonds said he recognises that “it is good practice for mature democracies to invite observers and an opportunity to demonstrate that election processes are robust, free and fair”.
Governor Taylor, in consultation with the supervisor of elections, will agree to a memorandum of understanding with the parliamentary association on the operation of the Election Observer Mission in line with standard international practice and will make this public as soon as it has been agreed.
Mr. Gomez said that his office had not yet been consulted by the governor’s office regarding the terms of reference for the parliamentary association observers. However, he and Deputy Supervisor Orrett Connor noted that the initial plan of having the international observers arrive in Cayman on 19 May – three days before the vote – would be too late.
Mr. Gomez said he would rather the elections observers from the Commonwealth come the week prior to the elections because the “frenetic activity” in the days just prior to the general election would make it difficult for local officials to meet with the observers.
Mobile polling in Grand Cayman will be held the week of 13-17 May, Mr. Gomez said, while Cayman Brac and Little Cayman mobile polling will occur on 10 May.