Amid a majority vote that liquor might be served on election day, poll respondents this week overwhelmingly registered a desire for “one man, one vote” as the top change to the Elections Law.
Of the 385 votes in this week’s readers’ poll, 126 – or 32.7 per cent, one-third – hoped to see licenced premises open all day instead of waiting for the traditional 7pm poll closing hour.
Most of those, however, also declined to comment on their choice. Only one voter, in fact, offered a remark, suggesting at least to “allow hotels and restaurants to be open to alcohol sales to tourists”.
Another used the vote for allowing liquor sales to advocate an additional change, suggesting officials might “do away with announcing your name, occupation, etc”.
One respondent, voting for the option to include a picture of each candidate on the ballot, used the occasion to denigrate election day openings of liquor-licenced premises, saying, “I don’t see why liquor-licenced premises need to be open that day. A picture won’t matter if that person is too drunk to see it or too drunk to go vote”.
The suggestion that candidate photos be included on the ballot, in fact, ranked second in the overall tally, drawing 114 votes and 29.6 per cent of respondents. The addition of pictures, many said, would ease the way for anyone with difficulties reading or seeing, and even “for those who are illiterate”.
Others offered similar ideas for modest ballot changes, suggesting the name of each candidate’s political party appear, and that each ballot be printed on “white paper instead of coloured” making it “easier for people with low vision to see”. Still, another asked to “include party symbols on the ballot”.
Registering third in the poll, garnering 70 votes and 18.2 per cent of the total, was the option to allow more early voting, smoothing the path for the elderly, the infirm and even those likely to be absent on election day.
“Extend the deadline on folks registering to vote and allow folks to vote early if they are going to be off island,” said one.
The greatest range of opinion, however, came under the heading of “other”, throwing up a series of proposals and criticisms.
“I can’t believe we took an entire night and morning to complete the counting of 15,000 ballots … that’s something that needs changing,” one respondent said, suggesting the tally of a relatively small vote seemed to require an inordinate amount of time.
“Start counting ballots earlier. The results will be known quicker,” opined another.
The concept of “one man, one vote” drew 16 comments, while another handful asked that voting rolls be opened to permanent residents and expatriates.
One voter, making an oblique argument for “one man, one vote”, challenged the logic of such multimember constituencies as six-candidate George Town and the four-candidate constituencies of Bodden Town and West Bay.
“If I have six votes in George Town, why can’t I give the people I REALLY WANT more than one vote?” the voter asked.
One disgruntled expatriate complained that “my wife and I have 25-year residency, but can’t vote”, while another argued that permanent residents should be able to vote because “they have been around long enough to grasp what is going on and it directly affects them. Would you not want a say in your future if you have chosen to invest in this country?”
A Caymanian agreed voting rolls should be expanded: “Anyone who has stayed long enough, and invested sufficiently to qualify themselves for PR should be allowed to participate in the democratic national discussion, and I say that as a Caymanian”.
A more provocative response was a prescription to change the entire electoral system, moving “to proportional representation with a single transferable vote. Maintain multimember constituencies, and have three of the 18 seats elected on a country-wide basis,” a voter wrote.
At least three sensible recommendations rounded out the list. One challenged the legitimacy of polling-place assistants, worrying about their “ability to see or hear the votes indicated by the voter they are ‘assisting’”.
“It was obvious in some instances that these assistants were there only to verify the votes cast – for additional incentives quite likely,” the respondent said.
Another raised the question of term limits, hoping for a “max[imum] two terms for politicians” while yet another broached the question of campaign finance, recommending “full disclosure of contributions to candidates over $1,000 from any entity or person two years prior to election.”
Next week’s poll question
The 2013/14 budget looms as the first major test for the new government. How will the debate play out?
It will run smoothly because the priorities are clear after four years of economic struggle
It will become a bitter squabble as the parties seek to blame others for that struggle
The Independents are finally sufficient to force a fresh approach
We are likely to see another budget delay extending into the autumn