One Man, One Vote, many complaints

Several of the candidates in Wednesday’s election have indicated that their constituents have misgivings about the new electoral system in Cayman. The new system, which gives one vote to every voter in their respective voting districts, has struck some people as an abridgement of their voting rights.

Marco Archer, who’s running in George Town Central, said his constituents prefer the old system.

“Some of them are a bit dissatisfied. They wish it had not changed,” he said.

“Therefore, over the next four years, we’ll have to see what the people really think. If there are sufficient people who think it’s not what they wanted, the Constitution provides for the people to speak in such a way.”

Jonathan Bardowell Piercy, a candidate in George Town West, said that the vagaries of how districts were drawn leaves people uncertain of how to use their vote. He said that some people on one side of the street vote in a different district than their neighbors on the other side of the street.

Mr. Piercy went on to say that his constituents just don’t like the new system for a variety of reasons, and he said that in his opinion, it restricts the voter from making the best possible decision.

“I think it does limit people’s ability to cast their vote,” he said. “We have seven seats in George Town and I think that everyone in George Town should have the ability to vote for any seven they wanted. I think Cayman is too small for One Man, One Vote. At the end of the day, you will see that the winner in any particular constituency will end up with less than 1,000 votes. I think that’s a small number.”

Roy McTaggart, a candidate in George Town East, said he senses apprehension and confusion among his voting base, and Joey Hew, a candidate in George Town North, provided the same analysis.

“There’s a little confusion with the single-member constituencies, but I think people are determined to vote,” he said.

“It’s very mixed. But with anything new, people are going to have some concerns and feel a bit uneasy about it. But I think once they go in and do it this first time, we’ll be OK.”

Not everybody surveyed on the issue is that optimistic.

Matthew Leslie, who votes in George Town North but is running as a candidate in Prospect, said the new system is democracy in action. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing.

“The people voted for it. They got what they voted for,” he said.

“I do believe we have to take a look at it again. There are some very disgruntled people, and keep in mind, the referendum that decided this, I think it had about 50 percent turnout. You have those that voted for it, those that voted against it and then those that never came out. Now that the time has come, a lot of people are not too pleased.”

The new system is easily navigated for some, and it may even make the vote totals come in quicker. But for Sharon Roulstone, a candidate in George Town East, it may need a few tweaks in the future.

“Everyone seems to understand it. Not everybody’s happy with it,” she said.

“The feedback I’m getting is that it should be a national vote. But I think 19 constituencies for our tiny island – and the way the law is drafted now and set out – I just think it’s too many. That’s my honest assessment.”

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