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 DaCosta’s voting rights were withdrawn later on Tuesday.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.
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.
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.