Referendum 2 months away, law takes effect

The referendum has come into law, officially sending the voting population to the polls to say whether they support single member constituencies.

The Referendum Law was gazetted Wednesday morning (16 May), and within moments, the Elections Office went into high gear.

Kearney Gomez has been running the elections office for 31-years. He’s unfazed by the upcoming referendum in July. “We’re ready, we’re prepared…we have a fantastic team here,” he said.

This is the second referendum in Cayman’s history. The Elections Office says it will be run like a regular election, so they’ve dusted off all of their old equipment, materials and polling booths.

The referendum in 2009 for a new constitution set the precedent.

“But there is still a lot that can change. We have to live and learn,” Deputy Supervisor Orrett Connor, said.

He adds while this referendum will borrow a lot from the Election Law, there are no rules when it comes to campaigning or funding of those campaigns for or against the question of one person one vote.

But one thing is for sure, there will definitely be no campaigning of any sort on polling day.

“We have observers who will be around and everything will have to be down.”

Second Deputy Supervisor Colford Scott oversees the process.

The Elections Office is a flurry now, getting voting lists, ballot boxes and ballot papers ready.

It’s costing around $300,000 to send people to the polls on July 18th.

“That’s mostly for the workers and materials,” Mr. Connor said. Around 600 recruits will go through a training exercise over the next 2-months. “I like to call it a refresher course.”

He adds, “We only have one time to get it right …so everyone has to be prepared.”

Government announced referendum day as July 18th, but that date still has to go through a final approval process. That’s expected to happen next week.

Referendum Campaigning

Those against the one man, one vote single member constituencies are going all out to convince voters that the electoral system should remain as is.

People commuting on West Bay Road have a clear view of the electronic billboard near Treasure Island Resort that flashes “One Man, One Vote? Not today Bo Bo,”.. Another sign says “Don’t give up your votes.”

The governing UDP has declared that it will vote no against its own question in the referendum. The operator of the sign would not say whose ad it is –only that a client has paid for the spots.

No cast ballot, ‘no’ answer

Meantime, supporters of switching to all single member constancies warn if you stay home on July 18th, it will be counted as a ‘no’ answer

Those pushing for one person one vote are asking everyone to come out and cast their ballot on referendum day. The referendum will need upwards of 7,500 people –more than half of the electorate—to say ‘yes’ for it to pass.

Attorney Sharon Roulstone says she encourages voters to come out in numbers.

“We have a bizarre situation here …where as in a government initiated referendum …you assume government wants the referendum to pass …but in this case government initiated the referendum but is against it …so they set the bar so extremely high in hopes that it will not pass. So it is extremely important for the voters to appreciate it that it is an attempt to silence their voice in my opinion and they should take that as a serious affront …to silence the wishes of the people. So I hope people will be even more motivated to come out and rock the vote on July 18th in favour of one man one vote,” she said.

Government has designated Referendum Day, July 18th, as a public holiday.

  • Fair Minded Caymanian

    “so they (Government) set the bar so extremely high in hopes that it will not pass”. Please be fair with your comments. If this was a People initiated Referendum that is what the bar would be. The Government did have the option to lower it but did not do so and in my opinion rightly so. On an important issues such as this half the people should want the change. Stop playing politics on this.

  • Derek

    Excellent comment “fair minded Caymanian”. I totally agree that the bar should be set at 50+1 otherwise we would not have a majority vote as it should be in any fair democracy. The minority should never be the deciding factor.

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