No deadline set for candidacy challenges

The supervisor of elections has refused to rule out the possibility of further eligibility challenges to candidates scheduled to stand in the May general election.

Two candidates were disqualified last week, following Grand Court challenges brought by the supervisor. A third candidate, Alric Lindsay, was cleared by the court to run.

The Cayman Compass understands that eligibility questions have been raised about a fourth candidate.

Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell declined to comment on whether his office would be bringing further challenges to the courts this week. Nothing had been filed as of Monday morning.

He said there was no legal deadline that the Elections Office was required to meet, but suggested his office could set an internal deadline.

He added, “While it is not clear in the law, the intent of that section is that these issues are cleared up soon after nomination day so it doesn’t negatively affect persons running for office.

“We are now a month away from the election, and at this point my office is squarely focused on running a good election, not necessarily going back and rehashing candidacy eligibility issues.”

He said postal ballots have been sent out for all 19 districts and the voting process has essentially begun.

The ballot papers for the three constituencies where candidates’ eligibility was challenged were withheld until that process was complete.

The Elections Law does contain provision for when someone passes away or withdraws from the race after ballot papers have been published.

The supervisor of elections is the only person with legal standing to bring challenges to a candidate’s eligibility before the election. However, it is open to anyone to file a writ challenging a candidate’s eligibility after the election, as happened in 2013 with James Gordon Hewitt’s ultimately unsuccessful challenge against Tara Rivers.

Mr. Howell said the new law had created, for the first time, the opportunity for the Elections Office to deal with eligibility issues before the vote. He said a review of the process would likely take place after the election.

“It is the first time that this law has been tested since it was passed – it is a brand new provision and we haven’t done a post-mortem of the procedure as yet.”

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