Fewer than 50 votes decide six races

Independent candidate Kenneth Bryan, who beat incumbent Marco Archer by 35 votes, shares an emotional moment with his mother Donna Bryan after he was announced the winner in George Town Central. - PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

About one-third of the winning political candidates in the Cayman Islands general election Wednesday owe their success to a margin of fewer than 50 votes, according to final results issued late Wednesday.

The slimmest margin of victory among all of the candidates was in Newlands district where independent Alva Suckoo beat incumbent Progressives Minister Wayne Panton by just 15 votes.

The next closest race went to Progressives candidate David Wight, who beat challenger Jon Piercy by 16 votes in George Town West.

A total of 22 votes separated North Side MLA Ezzard Miller from his closest rival, while Mr. Miller’s colleague in East End, Arden McLean, won by 26 votes.

In the biggest upset of the night, independent Kenneth Bryan topped Progressives Finance Minister Marco Archer by 35 votes.

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Longtime MLA Juliana O’Connor-Connolly retained her seat in Cayman Brac East by just 42 votes.

The slim margins of victory in some of the districts were partly the result of a very small number of voters under the new “one man, one vote” system, contrasted with a record number of candidates (61) contesting the election. For instance, in North Side, 599 people casting ballots among four candidates led to the eventual winner, Mr. Miller, earning 34 percent of the vote with 201 votes.

Three candidates won their seats with fewer than 40 percent of votes cast in their favor.

The Cayman Islands elections are run in a “first past the post” system, which means there is no runoff election for candidates who do not receive 50 percent plus one vote of all those participating the first time around.

Only 10 of the 19 winners Wednesday received more than 50 percent of the votes in their districts, and four of those winners were in two-person contests.

There was also a lower-than-expected turnout among registered voters. Of the 21,212 eligible voters, 15,867 (74.8 percent) participated in the election.

In the 2013 general election, nearly 80 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell said that of those who voted, almost everyone managed to mark their paper correctly, choosing only one candidate.

According to a Cayman Compass analysis, there were 145 “spoiled” ballots in the 19 districts, meaning ballots where elections officials could not determine which candidate was selected. None of the districts had enough spoiled ballots to affect the outcome.

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