‘Politics’ seen in voter challenges

A political candidate, a politician’s sister, a murderer who was released on license and an elite athlete are among the Cayman Islands residents whose cases will be considered in hearings this week, just before the voters lists are finalized for the May 24 general election.

According to Elections Office records, claims or objections were filed against or on behalf of 377 voters in the 19 single-member districts across the Cayman Islands, with the largest number of claims/objections filed in the three smallest districts of East End, Cayman Brac East and Cayman Brac West/Little Cayman. An objection is a complaint someone has made about a voter’s inclusion on the list. A claim is made by a voter who believes that he or she should be on the list.

A Cayman Brac political candidate’s voting eligibility was challenged based on claims that he does not reside in that district. Residency in a particular constituency is not a requirement for candidacy, but it is a requirement in order to vote in that constituency.

Nickolas DaCosta denied the claim and headed to the District Administration Building on Cayman Brac on Tuesday morning to defend himself. “I am a resident here,” Mr. DaCosta said, adding that the issue would not affect his candidacy in the 2017 general election, only his right to vote. The challenges against Mr. DaCosta’s voting rights were withdrawn later on Tuesday.

The objection had at least raised the odd possibility that Mr. DaCosta could run as a candidate in Cayman Brac West/Little Cayman while being excluded from voting in the election.

The residency issue is a frustrating one for East End political hopeful John McLean, Jr., who notes that two residents of his district have been objected to on the voters list after a house fire hit their residence. They are now living temporarily in North Side district until the damage can be repaired.

“They’ve been objected to because the fire has displaced them,” Mr. McLean said.

“If I do get elected, the first thing I’ll change is that any [candidate] who wants to run in a district should live in that district,” he added.

Also on the objections list in East End is former internationally competitive hammer-thrower Michael Letterlough. Mr. McLean said he was “shocked” by Mr. Letterlough’s potential exclusion after he had represented Cayman internationally.

Voter challenge hearings for East End are due to be heard Thursday afternoon.

‘Politics’

George Town Central political candidate Kenneth Bryan confirmed that his sister, Patricia, who would vote in George Town West, is being objected to as a voter. Mr. Bryan offered an explanation for this attempted exclusion: “Politics.”

“What they’re saying is that my sister has been off island for too long, she’s currently over … at university,” Mr. Bryan said. “They took her off [the list] … without even asking her first about what’s the purpose of her being away.” According to the Elections Law, students are allowed to vote in general elections even if they have been away from the jurisdiction for two out of the last four years prior to the registration date for an election.

“They have a crew of people who specialize in this, just look for these types of things to undermine people who are not [Progressives members],” Mr. Bryan said.

The Cayman Compass contacted Progressives party representatives about Mr. Bryan’s claims and the party directed all questions to the Elections Office.

Another claim on the George Town voters list is one involving Oral George Roper, who seeks to have his vote counted in the upcoming election. He is currently not on the voter registration list.

Mr. Roper was convicted of murder in the 1990s but was released from Northward Prison in 2014 on license under the Governor’s prerogative of mercy. He was one of four prisoners released that year by the governor before the enactment of new laws that ended Cayman’s mandatory life prison sentences for murder.

Mr. Roper, listed as a “new applicant” on the elections claims form for George Town North, has always maintained his innocence in connection with the 1994 slaying of a prisons employee. He told the Compass last year that he believes even those who are fairly incarcerated deserve a second chance.

George Town voter claims and objections are due to be heard Friday morning at a meeting at the town hall in George Town.

Jeffrey Webb

One name pops out among the Bodden Town voters who are being objected to, that of Jeffrey Dean Webb.

Webb, who has not resided in the Cayman Islands since at least May 2015, when he was arrested in Switzerland in connection with an international bribery and racketeering probe, is listed in the Savannah constituency.

Webb pleaded guilty in November 2015 to seven counts in a U.S. federal court indictment alleging he took millions of dollars in bribes to facilitate certain sports marketing companies receiving the commercial rights to FIFA football matches, including World Cup qualifying matches. He has also been charged, but not convicted, in connection with the CarePay public hospital fraud investigation in Cayman.

He is scheduled to be sentenced next month in the U.S. case.

The Bodden Town voter objections hearings are set for Wednesday morning.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I’m going to start with my Caymanian passport which expired in June 2014. I departed Grand Cayman on or around January 2, 2014., from spending the Christmas and New Year with my family. That means no I have not returned to the Cayman Islands for two years and approximately three months. My passport has been expired all this time. I do not know whether it was the Cayman Islands government, the United States government and/or the British government which took away the ability for Cayman Islands citizens that are overseas/abroad to be able to apply for a Cayman Islands passport while overseas, but that has no longer been an option for a few years. One would have to travel back to the islands in order to apply for and receive a passport. I didn’t do that; I simply could not afford to renew my passport nor even to visit during this time. My family have generously contributed to tickets for my two children who are here with me to periodically have visited for the holidays during the time which I was not able to. But honestly who can contribute to 3 adult tickets perhaps once or twice-a-year for fares of over CI$300-$500 per ticket? My family could not. Therefore I remained here allowing my children the visits to enjoy their vacations. Thirdly I also would continue my studies which I have consistently done every semester since 2010 and intend on doing so for another few years. I left Cayman to come to America to study because I was approved for a scholarship to attend the University College of the Cayman Islands and then subsequently the law school. My employers at the time which included Cayman Islands government dragged me through for two years refusing to give me permission and then when they did they found out I was pregnant and they retracted that permission. Therefore had to drop out of LAW school and lost my sponsorship. So I decided to move to America to further my studies and I have been doing so ever since I moved here . As a citizen I am going to be penalized because I am trying to better myself academically ? And because I cannot afford to return to my Islands every single year? A third reason traveling has not always been an option for me there either.
    Now to the reason of me sharing this story. I was notified last Thursday, March 30th, 2017, by the registering office for the area that I am registered to vote in, that I am being taken off the voters’ list. When I question “why” I was told because I have been off the island for “two years of four years” according to elections law. Anyone wanting to know more information about this feel free to contact me because I will say this–by the time the discussion was concluded with me and this person it was obvious that there was some irregularities in the manner in which she from the elections office had been trying to contact me since February 2017. I made my concerns known to her and shared examples of the irregularities that I noted; I used documents provided by her as my illustrations. I also noted these concerns with the supervisor of elections. To this day no one has come forward to address my specific concern of [the irregularities that I noticed of the officer/office failing to provide me with adequate, lawful service] of them removing me from the voters list. All I have been told is that I have to go to court or have someone represent me in court with proof to show why I should not be taken off the list. During this advice I was quoted several areas of the elections law. I have heard that I am not the only person they are trying to remove from the list. That is not my problem. As mentioned above my problem is the apparent unlawful manner in which the registering office and/or the elections office tried to [serve me notice of their intention]. Notice that came from an [undated letter] that was [registered (which is not courier nor express) mailed to me [6 days AFTER] the registering office had already filled out her form of objection to have me off the list. The undated letter was only giving me a FURTHER SIX days from the date it was mailed (February 14, 2017) to my address in Florida, until February 20th, 2017, the undated letter stipulated, to respond. This is the problem. They were not able to show me where the election provides for only a [six day notice] for someone living abroad to submit an objection. Adding her completing her form 6 days before mailing me my letter means to me they already had their objection prepared and was not waiting to properly notice me and give me time to respond.
    Section 15 (2) of the law stipulates that someone in the same registered area can object to someone being on the list. I guess this was where the revising officer came in with her objection dated February 8th, to remove me from the list. I am going by her words. However the law goes on to say that once this objection has been served on me (which it had not been served) but once the objection is served on the personrson that has been objected to, that person has [21 days], 21 days, to respond on a Form 9 to respond. I want the elections office to show me where I was given that 21 days. Not six days–the 21 days allowed by law–since that undated letter was mailed to my address on February 14th and only gave me until February 20th to respond; six days–not 21 days. No one has addressed this issue. Again let me make it clear that me having to present myself to court is not the issue. I was not lawfully [noticed] regarding this matter. Adding, I have been in touch with the elections office since January, 2017 regarding my absentee ballot application. In the past few weeks I have been in touch with the elections office as much as perhaps twice a week communicating with at least two to three different persons in the office. I have also communicated with the elections office through Facebook. The last few weeks would have been the month of February and March. Since this letter that was sent to me in February was not received by me–why is it that someone in the elections office, as small as the office is and knowing that I am the only person on the island with my name–could not from February until last Thursday March 30th, someone not inform about the development regarding me being struck off the voters list? The same as it was done Thursday March, 30? With the number of communications I was having with the elections office my name must have been all around the office; it was on the Elections office Facebook page. I was sporatically receiving responses from the elections office so no one has been able to answer me of why I could not have been notified this letter and this intention in these past few weeks instead of waiting until last Thursday. Approximately a week away from a date I was subsequently given that I could attend court with my objection? I deserve the courtesy of a response to this question. This too in itself is irregular. The law says I have the right to address my voter’s concerns to the election office. But again I say no one in the elections office whether the registering office or the supervisor of election has answer this or these specific question(s). The area of the revised elections law was changed by the sitting government. The registering office advised me that the reason for trying to take me off the list is because I have not returned to the country for two of the four years. That is true. But if I had been given my lawful time of notice and time to respond things would not have reached the stage of discussion. Time when I would have had more time to respond as my lawful right. Why the government would feel it necessary to restrict a citizen, a born-and-raised citizen, from voting in their native country? Because for reasons the government do not know except to deliberately consult immigration) why a citizen may not have been back to the country but the citizen has been obstructed from lawful smoke time to address why. Try to restrict a citizen from voting and exercising their Democratic right?
    Some may say well at least I was notified in enough time still giving me just one week to go before a magistrate to say why I should not be removed from the list, are placed back on the list as it seems since the registering office said that I was already taking off. However that is just simply not good enough when people have abused the powers of the law to their advantage and try to manipulate and black yard voters. Only the Almighty knows whether this has also been done to other citizens living abroad!
    I know a lady living in Florida who was removed from the voters list basically without no notice well the registration office knew that this lady is restricted from traveling due to health issues otherwise it will be dire consequences for her to travel on a plane. What did they care? Of course not. Did the registering office on or the elections office care to notify me within the reason full time of the allowance of the law? Of course not. If I am wrong with anything I have said here I gladly give the elections office and the registry office opportunity to make comments or set the record straight. I am just going according to the documentary evidence that was sent to me contents of registering office Communications and sections of the law that was quoted to me, and the area I see as applicable.
    These people do not get to pick and choose of how they apply the law and when they want to do so. Not because I am abroad and cannot call the Cayman Islands is often or as long as I would like that means I don’t have any rights. It is simply not enough to feel honored that I was given an email notification with just one week to make a submission on my behalf. The bottom line is they breached my rights to lawful notice.

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