The final legal step required to change Cayman’s next general election from multimember to single-member voting districts is expected to come before lawmakers this month.
Premier Alden McLaughlin’s office confirmed Thursday, following public statements by the premier, that the Legislative Assembly would receive and debate the final version of the voting maps in the 2015 Electoral Boundary Commission report at its next meeting, set to start Oct. 14. Approval by a majority of lawmakers is required before the territory’s voting system changes.
“I will shortly move the necessary motion in the Legislative Assembly to adopt the Electoral Boundary Commission’s report in full and introduce one person, one vote and single-member electoral districts in time for the next election,” Mr. McLaughlin said Wednesday.
Cayman’s next general election is expected to be held in May 2017.
A draft of the voting map proposed for the Cayman Islands 2017 general election, released by the boundary commission earlier this year, would add one more representative seat to the Legislative Assembly, for a total of 19 legislators.
The single-member constituencies proposal creates seven voting areas in George Town district, four constituencies each in Bodden Town and West Bay districts, two on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, and one apiece in East End and North Side. All single-member constituencies, except for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, East End and North Side, will maintain approximately the same number of voters.
The change proposed for the voting system ahead of the 2017 election will implement the principle of “one man, one vote,” taking away the ability of voters in the larger multimember districts of West Bay, George Town, Bodden Town and the Sister Islands to elect more than one representative to the assembly.
Electoral Boundary Commission Chair Lisa Handley, an American political scientist who led Cayman’s redistricting process, noted that it is still possible for lawmakers to amend the draft maps the commission proposed. However, she indicated in August that commission members did not believe that was likely.
“You have a pretty good idea what to expect,” she said during a meeting of the boundary commission.
The largest change this boundary commission made, compared to the proposed single-member constituencies voting map the government released in 2010, came in George Town, Cayman’s most densely-populated district.
In the 2015 draft voting map, George Town district has been divided into seven constituencies, from George Town North district in the northwest to Prospect in the farthest east. Compared to the 2010 district map, one new constituency – George Town East – has been added to the draft voting map.
The territory’s second-largest voting district, Bodden Town, was carved into four constituencies with Newlands and Savannah staying in the 2015 version of the map. The single-member districts called Pedro and Bodden Town in the 2010 boundary map have been replaced by Bodden Town West and Bodden Town East.
The West Bay district has been entirely redrawn from the 2010 proposal for single-member constituencies, but still has four voting districts.
The voting map for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman divides the larger island between Cayman Brac West and Cayman Brac East in much the same way the 2010 electoral boundary proposal did. East End and North Side district boundaries were largely untouched in the voting map redraw.