Conservative estimates by the Cayman Islands 2015 Electoral Boundary Commission indicate that about one-quarter of voting age Caymanians have not registered to cast their ballots in the May 2017 general election.
“We understand there are somewhere around 5,000 people who are eligible but not registered to vote,” commission member Steve McField said Wednesday.
According to numbers produced by the Cayman Islands Elections Office and as part of the government’s annual labor force survey for 2014, the boundary commission’s estimates regarding the number of unregistered voters may be a bit low.
According to the register of electors, updated as of April 22, the total number of registered voters in Cayman was 18,296. That’s down about 260 people from the number who were eligible to participate in the 2013 general election, mainly due to voter deaths since the election.
The 2009 Constitution Order changed the requirement to vote in Cayman Islands elections, allowing anyone who holds Caymanian status, regardless of citizenship rights in other countries, to cast ballots in a local election.
The 2014 Labor Force Survey, the latest data available, puts the total number of Caymanians age 20 and older at 23,623. The number of Caymanians between ages 15 and 19 is listed at 2,090. Those in the group who are 18 and older would be eligible to vote as well, so it’s quite possible that Cayman has more than 24,000 eligible voters.
Total numbers uncertain
The unknown data about eligible voters may significantly skew the drawing of electoral boundaries, Commission Chair Lisa Handley said.
The issue was raised by Chris Saunders, a Cayman Islands Democratic Party committee chairman and former candidate for public office in Bodden Town.
“If a Caymanian is not registered to vote, they are still entitled to representation,” Mr. Saunders said. “Should we not be looking at population? I think going forward, it’s better to include the voting age Caymanian population within the district.”
Ms. Handley agreed that the boundary commission, which is in the process of drawing single-member voting districts ahead of the Cayman Islands next election, would like to consider the general voting age population in its work. However, there is a problem finding information on people who haven’t registered.
“We are trying to get hold of that information,” Ms. Handley said.
An increase in the number of registered voters would significantly impact how Cayman’s single-district voting boundaries were drawn. If the commission decides to draw 18 single-member districts, the average number per district – with the exception of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman – would be about 1,080 voters.
However, if there were 24,000 registered voters, again subtracting Cayman Brac and Little Cayman – which are constitutionally-guaranteed two Legislative Assembly seats – the total number of voters per district would be around 1,437.