The Human Rights Commission has raised objections to quarantining voters missing out on casting their ballot during the 14 April general election.
The Commission, in a statement Thursday afternoon, said the right to vote is widely recognised as a fundamental human right and is enshrined in Section 92 of the Cayman Islands Constitution.
“There is therefore no justification or legal basis for disenfranchising such individuals. The Commission is in communication with the Elections Office and understands that the Elections Office is working expediently to resolve this situation,” the Commission said.
Earlier this month, Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell, during an interview on Rooster 101’s morning show, Cayman Crosstalk, said the worst-case scenario for his team is anyone in isolation on Election Day may not be able to vote because they can’t come to the polls and polling staff cannot go to them.
He explained the risk of those individuals becoming disenfranchised stems from the limitations of the Elections Act, which sets out three means for voting – in-person, mobile and postal.
Under Cayman’s health protocols, no one is allowed to be in contact with individuals quarantining, either at home or at a government-run facility.
Howell said his office would have “serious discussions with Public Health” on how they could safely allow those in quarantine to vote.
The Commission, in its statement, said it “fully supports the Elections Office in its efforts and calls on the Cayman Islands Government to ensure that such resolution is implemented without delay to ensure that all registered voters, including those in quarantine, are provided with a means to exercise their right to vote.”
It is not known how many eligible voters could be affected by being in quarantine on 14 April. On average, 800 people are in isolation at any given time.
Howell, when addressing the issue, cautioned residents against travelling around election time as “you would be forcing yourself into isolation or quarantine.”
With current restrictions on public gatherings, Howell also indicated that the Election Office is trying to get as many people it can to register to vote before election day, which could only be done through mobile voting.
The Cayman Compass reached out to Howell for an update on discussions with Public Health and whether any decisions have yet been been taken to allow quarantined voters to exercise their right to vote. We are awaiting a response.
On Monday, political hopefuls and incumbent MPs will sign on the dotted line to cement their candidacy for the general election.
Quarantining voters are not the only one facing disenfranchisement.
Recently, the Elections Office confirmed 16 registered first-time voters, who will turn 18 after 14 April, will also miss out on voting in the election.
Their disenfranchisement was a consequence of the triggering of early elections by Premier Alden McLaughlin, as pressure mounted for him to remove House Speaker McKeeva Bush who was convicted in December on assault charges.
McLaughlin, in a statement on 10 Feb., said, after careful consideration he “determined that it is in the best interest of the country for Parliament to be dissolved immediately, which will have the effect of vacating the seat of the Speaker.”