There are only six Commonwealth elections observers in Cayman this week, but they can show up anywhere, any time on Election Day.
Starting very early Wednesday, and likely lasting late into the night, or overnight, the observers will be checking out polling stations, the Elections Office and vote counting stations. Their visits will be unannounced and they will have full access, according to elections officials.
“We can potentially be anywhere at any time on polling day so we can get a truly representative picture on polling day,” head of mission Steve Rodan said during a Wednesday press conference that introduced the observers to the public.
There will be four observers on Grand Cayman and two in the Sister Islands.
Mr. Rodan, who is president of Tynwald, Isle of Man, noted that the observers’ mission follows a similar effort in 2013. That mission cited problems with voting inequalities in the territory’s previous multimember voting system. None of the current observers participated in the mission four years ago.
The 2017 vote will be Cayman’s first in more than a half-century held under the “one man, one vote” system, a recommendation made by the Commonwealth observers mission four years earlier.
“We note the broad equality that has been achieved,” Mr. Rodan said.
Mr. Rodan said there is still significant disparity between some of the voting district sizes, and that Little Cayman and Cayman Brac “are the exceptions” in terms of voter numbers. He said the size of each district is something election observers would review during the week.
“[However], within that everyone has one vote,” he said. “It cannot be therefore claimed that living in a particular part of Cayman … you have six times the voting power of everyone else.”
The functioning of one man, one vote in single-member constituent districts will be of keen interest to the Commonwealth observers.
“There’s been a momentous change in the electoral legal framework,” said Anne Marlborough, an Irish election analyst. “We’ll be interested to see how that operates on polling day.”
There are other issues of fairness the observers will look into, including current rules that require a sustained period of residence in the territory before an election that applies to registered voters and political candidates.
“That is something we have noted and that remains an issue,” Mr. Rodan said.
After the election observations are completed, the Commonwealth observers will compile a report on their initial insights and give it to the media on Friday. A follow-up report, including recommendations, will be presented about two months after the election.
Mr. Rodan said the report can only recommend. It is up to local officials whether they will address any issues raised by the observers.