Opposition party to petition against voting change

The opposition Cayman Islands Democratic Party has started a petition drive urging voters to tell the Progressives-led government they don’t support a change in the territory’s election system.

Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush said Wednesday in the budget debate in the Legislative Assembly that he would continue to fight against a plan he believed was “not good for these islands.” He said he would announce further details of the petition during a public meeting in Prospect Wednesday night.

Premier Alden McLaughlin has said his government intends to split the Cayman Islands into 18 voting districts, 16 on Grand Cayman and two on the Sister Islands, in time for the May 2017 general election. Now, Cayman voters cast ballots in six districts, with voters in the larger districts electing more representatives to the Legislative Assembly.

Mr. McLaughlin has previously said the current voting system is “blatantly unfair” and that he supports a move to “one man, one vote” via single-member constituent districts.

Mr. Bush challenged those statements Wednesday, stating his belief that Premier McLaughlin has never truly wished to change the territory’s voting system.

“I cannot support dividing this country up any more,” Mr. Bush said. “That cannot be the kind of participatory democracy we want and the premier knows that.”

“You know that you really don’t support this change,” Mr. Bush continued, speaking directly to Mr. McLaughlin, who had left the Legislative Assembly chamber at this point in the opposition leader’s debate. “We seldom see eye to eye on much, but you know in the deepest chambers of your conscience that we are both right in our opposition to one man, one vote.”

Mr. McLaughlin, during his budget policy address last week, said that implementing one man, one vote in the form of single-member constituencies would be another campaign promise kept by the Progressives- led government.

The premier has alluded to concern among his own political caucus that some form of “at-large” representation should be added to the single-member districts plan. At-large candidates would be elected by a vote of the entire island.

“This is the concern of the entire government team,” Mr. McLaughlin said last fall. “To split the Cayman Islands into 18 or 19 constituencies is going to result in such small constituencies, in many instances, that the result of the elections process could be easily manipulated.”

Those concerns were expounded on this week in a statement made to the Cayman Compass by George Town MLA Winston Connolly. Mr. Connolly said he was seeking the Progressives-led government’s support in introducing term limits for elected politicians, along with some way of stopping the political handouts currently being given to local voters on a perennial basis during election season.

“If the system that we currently have is perpetuated, we could see the control of certain boundaries [similar to] the garrison politics situation we see in Jamaica,” Mr. Connolly said. “It would be prudent to put in checks and balances now.

“If someone is very motivated to win at all costs, a smaller boundary will give them a great opportunity to ‘buy’ their seat. I would hope that it would not get to the stage where people take it upon themselves, out of patronage, to intimidate other voters to vote for a specific candidate or other candidates not to run in an election through force or threat.

“Term limits and illegal handout [laws] may curb or lessen the brunt of those who may be so inclined, but, at the very least, it will let those politicians who are in power know that they have a limited time to make things happen; that they will have to deal with jobs and immigration rather than simply throw money at a problem.”

Mr. Connolly said he would file a private members’ motion in the Legislative Assembly ahead of the September meeting if the government does not want to take up this issue on its own.

“We have to come together on topics that are universal and that affect people’s lives,” he said. “I don’t mind taking this forward, even if it’s just me. I was taught right from wrong and also that sometimes when you take a stand to do the right thing, it may only be you taking that stand. If it costs me my seat, that’s fine.”


  1. Mr McLaughlin has previously said the current voting system is " blatantly unfair" and that he supports a move to " one man, one vote" via single member constituent districts. Then why would Mr McLaughlin walk out on the discussion in the LA about why this is unfair. Mr Premier could you explain in simple language why you think that the current system is unfair, and the way you want it would be fair to everyone/voters. Cause I am a simple man, and lots of other simple people do not understand "Why" you think that the present system unfair. Maybe Mack is understanding language that why he’s fighting back.

  2. I too also believe that the PPM do not want this change to one man one vote, but sometimes we put our foot in our mouth and can’t get it out without losing a few toes. I am sure every running politician will see this as a win loose or draw situation.
    Many Voters have expressed in the pass that they wanted one man one vote, but obviously those persons did not realize what comes or what does not come with voting one man one vote. My suggestions is to listen carefully to the facts and ask questions. Do not go down a ravine because your friends is going. Find out what you will achieve by splitting the districts up and having one representative to your constituency.
    My concerns are; Please tell me if at present all the retail outlets, class A Banks, telephone companies, electricity companies, MLA office, Pizza Huts, Chinese restaurants, supermarkets, drug stores, mini hospital, Animal houses, and the list goes on, are all in one constituency, then what should the other three constituency do. Do we get the same things, will there be a CAPITAL constituency of your district Or should we have to still cross the Borders to buy rice and plantain, or will our one man representative see to it that we have all of these things in our cut off constituency.
    I really cannot see where dividing up the districts and voting for one man to serve my constituency is going to help the small population at all. I would really like to hear where it will be better for the people. Where the power and money will be coming from for that ONE man to make sure that your area has the same things as the one across the border. It just cannot be done.

  3. I have to agree with Mr Bush on this one.. The risk of garrison style politics outweighs any risk of inequities in the current makeup of our election policies. Also, these seemingly unbalanced representation should have been neutralized by our change to a Premier.. In its current make up the mixing pot will always have a Caymanian flair. Majority rule and minority rights still prevails.

  4. I do not understand Twylas comments.

    Businesses, supermarkets and hotels do not have votes.

    Nor do the foreign owners of houses and condos. The only people who can vote are Caymanians.

    What does Twyla mean about crossing a border to buy groceries?
    I don’t currently cross any border when I go from my home near West Bay to a supermarket in George Town.

  5. Norman of course those places do not have votes and of course they would be just buildings if people did not visit them.
    What I am saying in relation to crossing borders is this: And I am referring to the district where I live. Every one else can concentrate on their own district.
    Now follow me closely: If this district is divided into four constituencies and all of the businesses and government offices, MLA. Office is in district "A" what should the people in districts "B C and D" do.
    Do we go to the MLA office in district "A" or do we have our own MLA Office.
    Do we go to the Post office and Police station in district "A" or are we going to have our own. In other countries each constituency has its own. ARE we going to have our own.
    SO if we have to be crossing borders every day to go to the Police station, MLA office, post office and other places in Constituency "A" then Norman please explain to me what is the purpose of having a Constituency ruler. What will that person do for his district? And yes; if your West Bay district is divided into constituencies, you will be crossing borders if you go to George Town to shop. That however is not the problem, the problem is I want to hear from the experts WHAT WILL BE ACHIEVED IN EACH CONSTITUENCY BY HAVING A ONE MAN RULER.

  6. Disagreements are received well when ever we have a problem with a solution,that has been considered and debated; but if you have no solution to a problem then our disagreements are just like a wild card. Its neither here nor there.

  7. Twyla.
    Sorry but I am still confused by your comments.

    It makes sense to have, for example, just one airport in Grand Cayman. Likewise it would not make sense to have one post office in each voting district. No matter how it is represented.

    The UK, for example, has some 600 MPs, who each represent about 100,000 people. And each MP represents a different geographical district. That is, one man, one vote.

    No one worries about living and voting in one district and working, shopping or dining out in different districts. It is a non problem.

    But you do raise an interesting point about the MLA offices. To be fair I assume that every district should have its own office. Sadly at extra expense to the tax payer.

  8. At times you wonder how people can be confused on this issue, what is difficult to understand about this:
    Democracy is equality for all men and women. That’s simple.
    If one man( saves me repeating man/woman) has more votes than another, that’s not equality!
    So, take a West Bay man with 4 representatives, compare him to a single member area, how can it be right for him to have the opportunity to elect 4 people but the other only one?
    The situation is further biased when 4 people represent such a high proportion of a small assembly, but that is in the more difficult zone!

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