Archive for May 20th, 2009

UDP accused of influencing voters in George Town

| 20/05/2009 | 65 Comments

(CNS): Update 5:30 pm:  Following this morning’s reports of the United Democratic Party (UDP) workers handing out cards, to voters, printed with the names of the four George Town candidates and their ballot numbers at George Town Primary polling station election officials have confirmed further reports of similar activity happening in Prospect. Police liaison officer Deborah Dennis said the RCIPS were investigating the incidents. “Police are aware of the allegations and will be carrying out preliminary enquiries while awaiting legal advice and guidance from the elections office,” she added.

The first reprots occured around 11:00 am this morning when election officials and the police were called to the polling station at George Town Primary (20 May) following the reports that representatives from the UDPwere handing out cards or slips (as above) to voters arriving there with the names and numbers of their candidates, in contravention of the Election Law. Orret Connor said he could not directly comment on the allegations but the Elections Office was establishing another base by the political representative’s tents to keep an eye on the situation.

“I can’t commenton this at the moment as we are still monitoring the situation and if it is proved to be true we have to check out the implications with regards to the Election Law,” Connor said, adding that it could be considered undue influence.

A number of voters, passers by and field agents representing other candidates in the area all said they had seen the cards, which were the size of a normal business card with the four UDP candidates’ names and numbers listed there. Election officials also reported that some voters had gone inside the polling stations holding the cards and when asked where the cards came from they indicated that they had just been given the cards by the UDP representatives outside.   

Although candidates from both parties and the independents are, according to officials, allowed to have their representatives near the polling stations, those agents should not be influencing voters and they should not be giving out any campaign literature of any kind, let alone what appeared to be instructions on how to vote.

Aside from the potential of undue influence, Connor said he was concerned that voters may be confused by the political representatives outside the stations who legally hold registered voter lists but are not election officials. He said voters should check their names with officials from the election office and not with political agents.

One observer noted that she had seen the cards been given out all morning and suspected dozens had already been given to the voters who had been to cast their vote in the General Election at that station. By 11:00am, around the time when officials were called out to that station, almost 40% of voters registered to cast their ballot at that station had already voted.

Allegations were also made from a number of observers that it was the George Town candidates themselves who had given the cards to their representatives at the tent to hand out to voters as they arrived.

However, following the arrival of election officials and the police, Jonathan Piercy one of the UDP’s four George Town candidates arrived to discuss the matter with Orret Connor. Piercy said that the accusations were merely hearsay and there was no proof that any had been given out by their people on Election Day as the cards had been in circulation for about a week. However, Piercy, one of the UDP’s four George Town candidate, told CNS that if the cards were being given out on Election Day, he accepted that it would be illegal.

According to Section 92 (3) of the Elections Law, on polling day candidates are not allowed to publish any printed material which invites or induces the public to vote for a particular candidate or group of candidates and anyone contravening this section is liable to a fine of up to $500 or six months in prison. The question of undue influence, however, could also give rise to a more serious question of whether the vote and ultimately the result would be unfairly influenced.

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Early poll stats reveal lower referendum vote

| 20/05/2009 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Updated 4:00 pm: The afternoon bi-hourly poll statistics have confirmed the trend that emerged this morning that not all of those who are going to the polls to vote in the General Election today are voting in the Constitutional Referendum. The Election Office figures reveal that at 3pm almost 64% of Cayman’s registered electorate had come out to vote but only 52.5% of the total electorate had cast a ballot in the referendum.

Out of Cayman’s 15,316 voters by mid afternoon 9728 had voted in the general election and 8072 the referendum. More than 76% of registered voters had already gone to the polls by 3’ O’Clock in North Side and close to three quarters in East End but in both districts the vote for the turn out for the referendum was considerably lower. In North Side just over 65% had also made a democratic choice on the constitution and 56.9% in East End.  

Voters were out bright and early in the districts this morning and by 9:00am almost a quarter of the electorate had already been out to cast their votes in the General Elections. In North Side over 36% of eligible voters had been to the polls and placed their Xs in the General Election within the first two hours of polling and across all three islands almost 25% of people had voted.

 

With Cayman’s history of a high turn out the Elections Office said it is hoping that tradition will continue and also carry through to the historic Constitutional Referendum but early indications reveal that voters are not necessarily taking part in both ballots with the first bi-hourly poll statistics for the referendum being on average around 5% less than the showing for the General Election.

The referendum and the elections are taking place side by side but in separate stations where all voters are required to pass through both stations but are not obligated to vote in both. Although the referendum on the constitution will pass with over 50% of voters who turn out saying yes and not as a percentage of the electorate, a low vote in the constitution could cloud the result.  

This year the total electorate includes 15,361 people spread through the districts with the largest number concentrated in George Town where 5,968 are registered to vote. In West Bay there are 3762 voters and 3481 in Bodden Town. Over on the Sister Islands some 980 people are eligible to vote and in the two smaller districts ofEast End and North Side there are 599 and 571 respectively.   

 

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CNS launches free Classifieds

| 20/05/2009 | 5 Comments

(CNS): Today Cayman News Service is launching the next stage in the development of the CNS website to further service the online community of the Cayman Islands. The CNS free Classifieds section is designed to be user friendly, offering the quickest and easiest method to buy, sell, rent and give away unwanted stuff on all three islands. CNS now also provides an online location to advertise jobs, look for employment and place resumes, as well as announce births and birthdays, marriages, engagements, graduations, and remember loved ones with obituaries.

With a number of local scholarships left unused each year, CNS has also added a category for public and private entities to post scholarships available for tertiary education. CNS Sales Manager Doreen Trickett said, “These days Caymanians must obtain academic qualifications to compete in the workplace and we want to do everything we can to ensure that they are aware of all possible tools to help them achieve this. So we hope that all local entities that offer college grants will use this space to make sure that young people know about the opportunities available. This, coupled with the job search and resume categories, will hopefully assist graduates to find either employment or college funding.”

With each personal ad or announcement there is space for up to six pictures that automatically format to the right size. Place the curser over a picture and it pops up to a larger size, so users can share the landmarks in their lives with friends and family, however far away.

The “Classifieds” section on the main menu bar on the news pages now links to the Classifieds pages, while navigating back to the news pages is through a “Back to news” link on the Classifieds menu bar. All the Classifieds house ads also have quick links directly to the new section.

Placing a free Classified ad is fast and easy. Just click on the “Place an ad” box, no sign-up, log in or registration is required, and you will be emailed a link to alter your own ad at any time. The ad will remain on the site for two weeks, but if the item has still not been sold, rented or found, the ad can be resubmitted. Finding what you want is easy too. Categories are listed alphabetically in the drop-down menu on the menu bar when you use the search function, while the list on the left hand side has the most popular categories (those that get the most clicks) at the top.

“Categories and sub-categories will be added to as we find out what users want. We will be continually adapting the site to suit our readers and users,” Trickett said. “The Classifieds section also provides businesses with the right medium to reach their target market. Right now we are accepting ads for each individual category in the Classifieds, but as interest builds advertisers can buy target ads in each sub-category, which start as low as $25 per month.”

She added, “People from all walks of life and all age-groups in the Cayman Islands are now computer literate, and the internet, here as elsewhere, has become a place to read the news, do business, chat, exchange ideas and, especially for the young people, to play. With the up-to-date news and comments from the people, CNS has become part of the Cayman community. The new Classifieds section will add a new dimension to our site that we hope people will find useful and informative.”

CNS welcomes feedback on the Classifieds, either as a comment here or you can email classifieds@caymannewsservice.com. For sales enquiries, email doreen.trickett@caymannewsservice.com or call 916-5579.

To go to the CNS Classifieds, click here.

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Cayman queues to cast votes

| 20/05/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): As the polling stations opened across the Cayman Islands this morning voters were already waiting to cast their votes in both the General Election and the country’s historic constitutional referendum. Election Day is a public holiday and voters were keen to get to the polls early so they could enjoy the day.  According to the Elections Office the secure and empty ballot boxes and papers were dispatched to all the polling stations this morning without a hitch and it has confirmed that all 78 stations across the six districts are open.

 

This morning, from the command centre Colford Scott reminded voters to bring some form of ID to the polling stations with a name matching that which appears on the register of voters. “Electors should have a valid photo ID that states there name as it is on the voters list,” he said. “Any name changes need to be supported by some type of evidence.” He also warned voters not to go to polling stations wearing campaign t-shirts and that only small rosettes and buttons would be allowed.

Scott said that by 9:00 am the elections command centre should have the first update of how many people have already cast their vote in both the election and the referendum. Scott noted that traditionally Cayman voters do tend to visit the stations early in the day.  

Emphaissing that any disabled voters would be assisted and given priority at the station Scott said he hoped all registered voters would come out to the stations.

“I want to encourage all registered voters to come and cast their vote in both elections and the referendum,” he said noting that Cayman had a solid tradition of higher voter turn out and hoped that would continue.

Keep logging on to CNS throughout the day for regular updates and coverage as Election and Referendum 2009 unfold. CNS will also be posting the election results tonight/tomorrow morning in real time.

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UK conducted secret report

| 20/05/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): During the proceedings of Justice Priya Levers’ tribunal it was revealed that another behind the scenes enquiry of the local judiciary had taken place that had not been revealed to the public. Although the full details were not disclosed, it became apparent that Dale Simon (left), head of the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC) in the UK, had visited the Cayman Islands in June 2008 to conduct a report.

According to Stanley Brodie QC, who was representing Levers, the report, which he described as fairly lengthy along with an addendum, was contained in the evidence before the tribunal and was sent to Governor Stuart Jack on 5 June 2008. No details of the main report, why the report was instigated or how long Simons had been in Cayman making her investigations were revealed. Nor was any light thrown on whether the enquiry was initiated as a result of the Justice Levers case (although her case was mentioned in the addendum), or as a result of the Special Police Investigation Team, which had also been looking into the judiciary as revealed during the Justice Alex Henderson Judicial Review.

According to the OJC website, the office was set up on the 3 April 2006 to handle complaints about the personal conduct of all judicial office holders in England and Wales and some who sit on tribunals in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It provides advice and assistance to the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice in the performance of their joint role, but the website does not indicate if the office has jurisdiction in Overseas Territories.

Although the site holds various reports and statements regarding enquiries made in the UK, the report that Simons allegedly conducted in Cayman does not appear. Brodie, however, did read part of the addendum to Simon’s main report during the proceedings and included some of her findings in his final submissions. He noted that she had found an absence of alternative public accountability for the judiciary in Cayman other than removal.

“The constitution of the Cayman Islands provides for one disciplinary sanction arising from the misbehaviour of a judge, and that is removal," Brodie read from her report on Monday, 18 May. "Consideration of removal will necessarily only arise in the most extreme cases of prolonged misbehaviour.  Therefore judges cannot currently be held to account for misbehaviour that does not raise the question of removal but nonetheless adversely impacts on public confidence in the judiciary in the Cayman Islands.”

She noted in the addendum that the chief justice has responsibility for the judiciary but he has no power to ensure that judges act appropriately, though judges normally respect the view of the chief justice. Continuing to read from her report, Brodie revealed that Simons had reported that in most cases a word from the chief justice will be sufficient to address any areas of concern and prevent further misbehaviour.

He said she had recommend that, in view of the size of the judiciary in the Cayman Islands, there was no need for a wholesale adoption of discipline procedures currently in force in England and Wales, but that there was an urgent need for the introduction of disciplinary rules and provision for the imposition of disciplinary sanctions below the level of removal. 

“In my opinion this step is necessary to address inappropriate behaviour at an early stage and thereby ensure that the judiciary commands the continued respect of the public,” Simon reported. “The formal disciplinary sanctions short of removal that are available to the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chief Justice in England and Wales can advise, formal warning or reprimand.  Advice is usually issued where a judicial office holder engaged in ill advised behaviour, but the impact on his or her judicial office is minimal.”  The report explained that formal warnings are issued for more serious incidents of misbehaviour and reprimands are issued either as a consequence of repeated minormisconduct or a single incident of serious personal misconduct.

"Repeated instances of serious personal misconduct or a single incident of gross misconduct would place a judicial office holder in jeopardy of being removed.  If a system of this nature were introduced in the Cayman Islands, I believe the Governor would be greatly assisted in any future decisions as to the appropriateness of initiating the removal procedures, as he would be able to clearly identify the scale of the judge’s offending behaviour and whether or not the behaviour was aggravated by the imposition of lesser disciplinary sanctions," Simon had found. 

Brodie used her report to highlight the fact that under the current Constitution, the only sanction that can face a judge in Cayman is removal. The Constitution states that if the governor considers that the question of removing a judge of the Grand Court from office for misbehaviour ought to be investigated then he shall appoint a tribunal, which shall consist of a chairman and not less than two other members selected by the governor from among persons who hold or have held high judicial office; the tribunal shall inquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof to the governor and advise the governor whether he should request that the question of the removal of that judge should be referred by Her Majesty to the Judicial Committee; and if the tribunal so advises, the governor shall request that the question should be referred accordingly.

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