Cayman is heading for its first ever people-initiated referendum after the Elections Office confirmed it has verified 5,305 signatures from registered voters – taking the petition past the target required to trigger a national vote on the cruise port project.
A total of 5,292 signatures were required to meet the target set in the constitution of support from 25 percent of registered electors.
Asked for comment, Premier Alden McLaughlin said, “I am extremely proud of the professional and expeditious manner in which the Elections Office, led by Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell, has executed the verification process. I commend them for an excellent job carried out amidst much skepticism and criticism.
“The Government now looks forward to receiving the petition so that the next steps regarding the holding of the referendum may be taken.”
Johann Moxam, one of the leaders of the Cruise Port Referendum Cayman campaign, thanked the Elections Office and CPR’s volunteers as well as all who signed the petition, saying they had done so bravely in the face of efforts by pro-port lobbyists to prevent them.
He said, “Reaching the threshold to trigger the People’s Initiated Referendum is how participatory democracy is intended to work.
“Now we have to demand all the updated information like the EIA, final business case and other reports about the proposed project from CIG to educate and inform the voters of all the facts and not rely on government propaganda.
“This historic event is giving each voter their say in the direction the country takes. This is a privilege and we encourage all voters to exercise their democratic rights by turning out in record numbers to vote and have their say on this matter of national importance on Referendum Day 2019.”
Government is now required to bring a bill to the house, setting out the details of the referendum, including the date and the question that will be put to voters.
The ballot is expected to be held later this year, possibly as early as mid-November. It is understood that a majority of 50% plus one of the electorate will be needed for the result of the referendum to be binding on Cabinet.
Legislative Assembly rules require that the referendum bill, like any other bill, be published 21 days in advance of debate in the LA. It will then be discussed by lawmakers before being passed.
Campaigners began collecting signatures for a petition calling for a referendum on the port project last September.
Citing the expense of the project, damage to coral reefs in George Town Harbour and concerns over lack of information about key details of the development, they said the people should be allowed to decide whether or not the cruise piers should be built.
Government has argued that the piers will be funded by cruise passengers and will help secure the future of the cruise industry in Cayman, safeguarding jobs and creating new economic opportunities.
The campaigners submitted their petition to the Elections Office in June. Since then a person by person verification process has been taking place.