There will be nearly 3,000 more voters registered for Cayman’s May 24 general election than were registered for the last election in 2013.
Figures released by the elections office late Tuesday stated that 21,465 people had registered to participate in the upcoming vote.
Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell said voter registrations have well exceeded what the office expected to see following its registration drive, which began last summer.
The number of voters will not be final until the April 1 list of electors is released, but the numbers are not likely to change greatly between now and then. Objections to the voters list can be filed until Feb. 20.
The Cayman Islands has moved to a one man, one vote electoral system for 2017, for the first time splitting the territory into 19 voting districts – 17 on Grand Cayman and two in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
The elections office numbers also reveal approximately how many voters will be in each separate constituency. The numbers vary widely, between 1,531 in Bodden Town East and 506 voters in Cayman Brac East.
The five largest districts in terms of voter numbers are Bodden Town East (1,531), Bodden Town West (1,453), West Bay South (1,358), Savannah (1,354) and George Town Central (1,274).
The two smallest voting constituencies on Grand Cayman – East End (719) and North Side (717) – have fewer voters combined than each of their neighboring districts of Bodden Town East and Bodden Town West.
West Bay constituencies also vary substantially, between West Bay South (1,358) and West Bay Central (1,076) – a difference of more than 20 percent.
George Town constituencies have very little difference, between the largest in George Town Central (1,274) and the smallest, George Town North (1,159).
The difference, or potential for difference, in voting district sizes was noted as a concern for the Cayman Islands in 2013 as the territory contemplated a move toward single-member constituencies.
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association observers noted in a preliminary report issued after the May 2013 elections that Cayman was using a “disproportionate” voting system with two single-member electoral districts and four multimember districts, which returned between two and six members to the Legislative Assembly.
However, the fairness of the proposed one man, one vote single-member districts scenario drawn up by the 2010 Electoral Boundary Commission was also challenged by Commonwealth observers.
According to the preliminary review, voting equality was “further undermined” by the fact that the average number of voters in each district varies widely. Under the existing multimember voting system, electors represented by one legislator vary “between 520 in the case of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman electoral district and 1,240 in the case of George Town electoral district.”
Since the 2010 Electoral Boundary Commission, the number of registered voters has increased, with the largest district, Bodden Town East, now having three times as many voters as the smallest district, Cayman Brac East. This is also against the principles of equal voting rights, Commonwealth election analysts said.
“Generally, the difference per district should be no more than 15 or 20 percent,” said election analyst Marian Gabriel, who traveled with the 2013 observer team. “This is the best practice around the world.”
Cayman’s Constitution Order, 2009, requires that Cayman Brac and Little Cayman send at least two members to the Legislative Assembly, regardless of how many voters reside there.
There is no such legal requirement for the districts of East End and North Side, but the constitution states that a boundary commission redrawing district lines “shall have regard” to historical district boundaries.