Campaigners for a referendum on Cayman’s planned cruise and cargo port project have highlighted concerns about the scope and extent of the verification process for their petition.
The Elections Office has begun its efforts to confirm the authenticity of every signature on the document.
The campaign group claims it has support from more than 5,289 people, representing 25% of the electorate – the threshold required to trigger a people-initiated-referendum under the Constitution.
But they say the process now outlined by the Elections Office, which involves all those people filling out a new signed declaration calling for a referendum on the port, amounts to a re-run of the process they have just been through.
It took almost 10 months for the group to collect the necessary signatures, which were handed over to the Elections Office last week. Wesley Howell, the supervisor of elections, has confirmed that his staff will seek to verify every single signature and will go door to door across Cayman to achieve this.
The campaign group has written to Governor Martyn Roper to highlight concerns with this approach, which they describe as “onerous”.
Johann Moxam, one of the campaign organisers, said the Elections Office already has the electronic signature of the majority of voters on record.
“I’m not sure why they can’t just check the signatures against the ones that they have on file,” he said.
He also questioned why those who signed the petition were now being asked to sign another lengthy declaration asking for a referendum.
“Why is the Elections Office taking the extraordinary step of redoing the petition?” he asked. “They already have the signatures bound and presented. Verification should be a simple yes or no question – did you sign the petition?”
Howell has previously stated that in the absence of any clear guidelines, other than the brief wording in the Constitution, it is necessary to independently verify every signature.
He has indicated he believes this can be done quickly and efficiently and that his staff will be able to reach everyone on the list.
Some of those who signed the petition have already come into the Elections Office to confirm their support for a referendum.
The office plans to recruit 100 additional staff for the full verification process and will go house to house and host events in the community to allow people to verify their signatures.