Governor Martyn Roper has confirmed that no international election observers will be coming to Cayman to oversee the 2021 general elections.
Instead, Roper, through a statement Tuesday, invited interested individuals to apply to serve as domestic election observers for the 14 April polls.
“On the ground election observation is important for public reassurance, including on Election Day. This is an exceptional opportunity for anyone resident in the Cayman Islands to serve the community and help to ensure that the upcoming General Election has credible results and is conducted in a free and fair manner,” Roper said in a statement shared on his official Facebook page.
He explained that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA-UK) International Election Observer Mission will be unable to travel to the Cayman Islands for the general election on Wednesday, 14 April “due to COVID-19 related travel disruptions”.
The CPA will instead be conducting a virtual mission by remotely engaging with stakeholders within the Cayman Islands, Roper said.
“The CPA-UK virtual observer mission will however be supplemented by a larger domestic team. The domestic observer mission will consist of nine members – five selected by the Governor, two by the Premier and two by the Leader of the Opposition,” Roper added.
Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell, speaking on the 3 March episode of The Resh Hour, said his office had been working to get a team of observers to Cayman, as has been the norm at general elections, but the extended quarantine periods due to the pandemic have created some hurdles.
Added to this, he said, was the challenge of flight availability.
Only British Airways and Cayman Airways flights are allowed into Cayman and, as of now, the only approved flight from the UK, according to Travel Cayman, is on 11 March.
Back in 2017, six Commonwealth elections observers oversaw the 24 May polls. They gave Cayman the highest possible marks for the conduct of the general election.
They suggested some local laws governing elections be updated, especially the two-year residency period for voter eligibility. They found that it “appeared to be overly restrictive and may operate to exclude otherwise eligible Caymanians” from exercising their right to vote.
Roper said on Tuesday that virtual training will be provided to the selected domestic observer mission members “to better enable them to perform in this role”.