One way or another, it seems the debate over “one man, one vote” will come back before the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly before the end of this year.
East End MLA Arden McLean, who earlier this year submitted a private members motion urging government to adopt single-member voting districts territory-wide, this week submitted a similar motion to the LA, the Cayman Compass has learned.
According to Legislative Assembly clerk Zena Merren-Chin, the motion had not been approved by the Speaker of the House as of Wednesday.
Mr. McLean said Wednesday that his motion was substantially the same as the one he filed earlier this year, seeking that the government enact a “one man, one vote” electoral system in the form of single member constituencies within three months of the motion’s passage.
Mr. McLean argues that the previous motion was not resolved in a satisfactory manner, ending in a tie vote of legislators present.
According to Legislative Assembly rules, he had to wait six months before filing another private members motion on the same topic.
Another potential way the one man, one vote issue might come up would be via government backbench MLA Alva Suckoo, who could file a separate motion on the issue in the coming weeks.
Contacted Wednesday, Mr. Suckoo said he intends to meet with colleagues in Cabinet next week and did not want to speculate any further on what might happen with the issue.
Mr. Suckoo, a founding member of the grass-roots group that supported one man, one vote, said in March following a vote on the first motion in the assembly that he expected government to deal with voting process issues during the current term in office.
However, Premier Alden McLaughlin has said he does not believe there will be enough time to change to the country’s voting system prior to the May 2017 general election.
“I would have expected an amendment to [Mr. McLean’s initial] motion to say how we were going to address one man, one vote, but that didn’t happen,” Mr. Suckoo said in March. “We had a discussion at our [political party] retreat [about implementing it], but I want more than that. If I’m going to back away from one man, one vote, which is what made my political career, I want more than just verbal assurances.”
Mr. Suckoo said in April and reiterated on Wednesday that observers should not take this as a sign that political dissention has arisen in the Progressives coalition government.
The Progressives caucus discussed the issue again on Monday, he said.
“I won’t let it come between us,” Mr. Suckoo said. “I’m a Progressives member. If they’re uncomfortable with my position, we can sit down and discuss it.”
A lengthy political wrangle over Mr. McLean’s first one man, one vote motion finished in a dramatic tie vote.
Following the debate’s end, with several government ministers absent from the Legislative Assembly chamber, a 6-to-6 draw vote on the motion was reported by Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.
Opposing the one man, one vote single-member constituencies motion were Premier McLaughlin, Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, Minister Kurt Tibbetts, and MLAs Winston Connolly, Roy McTaggart and Joey Hew.
Supporting the motion were government backbench MLAs Anthony Eden and Mr. Suckoo, opposition MLAs Bernie Bush and Capt. Eugene Ebanks, and independent MLAs Mr. McLean and North Side MLA Ezzard Miller. Absent were ministers Osbourne Bodden, who was off island at the time, Tara Rivers, Marco Archer and Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush.
In the end, Ms. O’Connor-Connolly, who joined the Progressives after the May 2013 general election, was forced to cast the deciding vote. She voted no.
Mr. Bush has long been opposed to single-member voting districts. Ministers Bodden, Rivers and Archer all indicated they would have voted against the motion had they been present when the vote came up.