Opposition says no to election changes

Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush, speaking to about 100 supporters in West Bay on Tuesday night, urged Cayman Islands Democratic Party voters to reject a move toward “one man, one vote” and single-member districts. 

Mr. Bush, joined by fellow MLAs Bernie Bush and Eugene Ebanks at the Sir John A. Cumber Primary School hall, said the proposed changes to local elections threatened Cayman’s democracy. “This is not something you play with. This is your democracy,” he said. 

He urged the supporters to attend the Electoral Boundary Commission meeting in West Bay next week. The commission is in the midst of a tour of the islands collecting comments on redistricting for single-member voting districts.  

Mr. Bush pointed to the success Cayman has seen in the past 60 years and asked why the elections system should change to international standards. “They can keep their international standards when it comes to my voting system,” he said. “Our way is much better.” 

Cayman currently has six voting districts. Grand Cayman has three multimember districts – West Bay, George Town and Bodden Town – and two single-member districts, North Side and East End. Cayman Brac and Little Cayman share a voting district and elect two representatives. 

There was some confusion Tuesday between the “one man, one vote” proposal and single-member districts. The one man, one vote proposal means each voter can cast a ballot for one candidate instead of the current system where someone can cast several votes for different representatives in their district. This is closely related to, but decidedly separate from single-member districts where each person would be able to vote for only one person to represent their district. 

Those international standards, he said, call for districts to have similar populations with “5 to 10 percent difference in the numbers for each one.” 

Mr. Bush encouraged some changes to the elections district, pointing specifically to North Side and East End: “What is never acceptable is for one district to have 600 and the rest to have 1,300 residents.” 

“That is not equality,” he said. 

Caymanians are better represented by multimember districts, Mr. Bush argued. If a West Bay constituent has a problem, he said as an example, that person can always find an MLA to help them. “If you can’t get a hold of me, you can get a hold of Capt. Eugene or Bernie,” he said, pointing to his colleagues sitting beside him. 

With single-member districts, a constituent would have only one MLA to reach out to. A representative from the other side of West Bay, he said, might not care to help because the person can’t vote to re-elect him or her. “You can’t do anything for him, so he doesn’t need to spend his time on you,” Mr. Bush said. 

He equated fewer people voting for each member to less accountability. The current multimember districts mean more voters to hold each representative responsible, he said. 

He cautioned against small districts, pointing to problems with gangs in West Bay. In a district where a few hundred votes would win an election, what would stop someone with criminal intentions and enough contacts from being elected into office, he asked. “All it really takes is one really bad man,” he said. 

Mr. Bush accused the government of trying to use election changes to prevent him getting re-elected. “You want to get rid of McKeeva? Let’s cut up the district,” he said. 

He also questioned the constitutionality of the redistricting itself, saying that in a 2012 referendum, a majority of registered voters did not approve the move. People who did not come out to vote on the question, he said, voted “no” by not showing up. He noted the referendum required more than 50 percent of all registered voters to approve the issue, not 50 percent of votes cast. Mr. Bush’s former United Democratic Party campaigned heavily against the 2012 referendum.  

McKeeva Bush, standing, addresses supporters in West Bay Tuesday night. Eugene Ebanks, left, and Bernie Bush joined him to oppose changes to the Elections Law.


  1. Don”t fall for the "get rid of McKeeva" line, what he is actually concerned about is that the OMOV changes would remove his existing power over the 3 (this session 2) small fries that come with the Big Mac! With OMOV, he can chose his constituency and be sure of election, but he can’t guarantee 3 also rans at his beck and call, and why should he. More important, why does he want them at all? The answer is that a block of four in a small assembly has far more power than it has a right to, OMOV gets rid of that, bear in mind that throughout the democratic world, OMOV is the gold standard, and thats why he doesn’t want it.
    He is right, however, in pointing out that constituencies have to be drawn up with similar electoral numbers, that has to be a part of the overall constitutional change.
    Forgive me though for a little chuckle on this very serious subject, it was the line above which said: "What would stop someone with criminal intentions and enough contacts from being elected into office “All it really takes is one really bad man,”
    Well now, that is so true!

  2. I think that Mr Bush is correct in saying leave the system the way it is , to hell with the international system . When it comes to less opposition in the LA the better chance one will get more done of what he or she wants to do with the Islands, that is a very scary thought today . Have we heard the saying, if it not broken don”t fix it. The million dollar questions, who wants it changed, and why .

  3. Mr Ebanks, the problem is that the system is broke!
    The reason is as I describe below, one major figure can drag in 3 minor figures on his coat tails, That matters because those 4 together need only a small amount of support from others (e.g. the Floating Voter, aka Miss J) to make a blocking vote and democracy suffers accordingly.
    If you doubt that, think of how this particular politician used the last LA, he simply did what he wanted knowing no one could stop him. The result? Numerous examples of deals done without due process, almost all of which cost the Islands dear. Worse than that, is that just about anything could have been wrapped up in those deals because transparency was noticeably missing.
    Now, it is quite probable that there was no skulduggery, but due process is there so we can all SEE that it is so, and however inconvenient it may be for the politicians to have to do all that boring paperwork, it is better that way, thats what you pay the civil service for.
    How does OMOV stop any of that?
    Simply be spreading more independent people around the LA, and making it more difficult to have a bunch of small fries.