The Cayman Islands political party leadership, both government and opposition, is seeking to eliminate one of the two elected representatives from East End and North Side by combining the two districts ahead of the 2017 general election, the two members said Wednesday.
Speaking on Radio Cayman’s “For the Record” program, North Side MLA Ezzard Miller urged constituents to come out and oppose such a move during public meetings scheduled over the next few days. The East End public meeting is set for Thursday evening.
Mr. Miller said it was obvious that “part of the intent of both political parties is to try and combine East End [with North Side] with the hope of getting rid of either me or [East End MLA] Arden [McLean].”
“There is something afoot,” Mr. McLean said. “[Opposition Leader] McKeeva [Bush] talking about conspiracies; this is the conspiracy he needs to talk about.”
Mr. McLean has also alleged that Premier Alden McLaughlin was seeking to add a 19th seat to the Legislative Assembly as part of the redistricting effort.
“The premier, in more than passing, has made strong statements about us increasing the membership of the legislature because of the fear of hung governments,” Mr. McLean said, referring to the potential – with an even number of 18 MLAs – to be split nine to nine, resulting in no government being formed.
The head of Cayman’s three-member Electoral Boundary Commission has said that the group has not been instructed to add any Legislative Assembly seats to the territory’s voting map ahead of the May 2017 general election.
“We plan on drawing 18 single-member districts,” Commission Chairperson Lisa Handley told the Cayman Compass.
The Compass asked Ms. Handley, following her appointment in January, about her general views in drawing up single-member representative districts.
“Electoral districts that vary greatly in population violate the central tenet of democracy that all voters be able to cast a vote of equal weight,” she said. “However, boundary commissions should be given some degree of flexibility to balance the concern for equal population with other redistricting criteria such as respect for communities of interest.”
This issue of “equality of voting,” or that all representative districts should have roughly the same number of voters, was discussed by a group of election observers from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association sent to keep an eye on Cayman’s 2013 general election. Widely varied numbers of voters in each district is against the principles of equal voting rights, Commonwealth election analysts said.
Mr. Miller roundly opposed this idea on Wednesday: “I don’t know of any two constituencies or any electoral boundary commission that succeeds in having every district or every constituency equal in votes. The equality in voting does not come from the number of voters the person represents; it comes from the fact that each person in that constituency has equal influence in forming the government.”
Mr. McLaughlin said Wednesday that he had made no such proposal to draw out one of the eastern district members by combining their two voting districts. Opposition Leader Bush appeared to support the idea during a Tuesday night public meeting in West Bay.