‘We’ll get 25%,’ say MLAs

| 16/02/2012

ard n ezz.jpg(CNS): Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller say then are confident of getting at least twenty-five percent of the country's electorate to sign their petition for a referendum on changing Cayman's voting system to single member constituencies. The two MLAs said at the official launch of the petition that their goal was to get 5,000 signatures from registered voters to support the call for government to adopt the Boundary Commission recommendations of 18 constituencies across the Cayman Islands. Miller and McLean have set November as the target date for the people-led referendum, leaving government enough time to conduct the 2013 general election in accordance with the result of that national ballot, which they say will be one man, one vote.

“We believe it is time that the whole islands have some form of equality,” Ezzard Miller stated at a press briefing on Wednesday as he explained that the introduction of the three extra seats at the next election would create an even greater democratic injustice across the islands when it comes to influencing government. 

Government has selected the option which its own commission, which pointed to the obvious inequality and extraordinary influence it would give voters in the capital. Nevertheless, government means to add two seats to Goerge Town and one to Bodden Town before the 2013 May election, giving voters in the capital six times more influence on the result than voters in the two single member constituencies.

Although Miller’s efforts to introduce single member constituencies through parliament have been thwarted on a number of occasion, the mounting evidence from the work of the commission, various straw polls and surveys is pointing to greater than ever support for one man, one vote, which may be down to his efforts in the Legislative Assembly.

“The constitution prohibits people from casting more than one vote,” he said as he read section 92. “In every dictionary I look up ‘an’ is singular. So how government can make that mean four or even six is difficult for this country boy to understand,” Miller added. He explained that when the constitution was implemented all laws that had not been update were to be read as though they had already been changed to be in line with the constitution. “The Election Law must be read as if it is already amended to a single vote.”

Given that government does not take this view, both he and McLean have changed tack and are now focusing on the referendum and believe they will get much more than the 3,795 signatures they need from the electorate to trigger the referendum and go on to win that ballot.

“I believe, although I have failed to get government to support my motions during that process, there has been a greater awareness about the need for one man, one vote,” Miller said. “The constitutional commissioners said themselves that at every public meeting held in Grand Cayman people expressed a preference of one person one vote. Given that situation, it boggles my mind why the government could entertain the possibility of giving George Towners six votes.”

The constitution provides for a people-initiated referendum, which requires 25% or more of the electorate to support the referendum and force the hand of government to hold that vote within a reasonable time frame.

Joined by a group of more than a dozen local business representatives at the launch, the MLAs said they had recruited another two dozen people who will be going to the doors of registered voters with the petition books to ask people to sign. They will also be at a number of strategic locations across the islands over the six week campaign set aside to collect the necessary signatures.  The goal is to have the petition in the hands of Cabinet by the first week of April, giving government eight months to prepare for the referendum.

Miller said lessons were learned from the fate of the petition collected by the various activist groups in West Bay regarding the proposed road closure and as a result every signature will be supported by photo ID and carry the voter’s election number.

The petition simply asks potential signers if they support a referendum to ask the electorate if they want single member constituencies as set out in boundary commission report. “It is very clear and deliberate,” Miller said.

The members explained that the 18 constituencies across the three islands have already been identified and marked and are currently set out under the polling districts. As a result, the MLAs say there will be no difficulty changing to the more democratic system before 2013.

“The election’s office could conduct an election tomorrow with single member constituencies as the work has already been done,” Miller stated.

Arden McLean said the principle was not about party politics or specific politicians but empowering the people to choose and hold their representatives accountable.

“It demands accountability,” McLean stated. “In plural districts you don't get that as politicians can discount entire communities and still get elected.” 

He said there was no equality in the current system and it would get worse if the government is allowed to go ahead and adopt the proposal to add seats to existing multi-member districts. “The time has come for Cayman to move its democracy forward; it’s time for equality,” McLean said as he warned that politicians would no longer be able to hide.

The cost of conducting a referendum is estimated to be about $250,000, which given its significance for the future of democracy was a price worth paying, the MLAs agreed.

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Comments (67)

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  1. Slowpoke says:

    Well, I went shopping at Foster's at the airport. ALT's, Kirk home center, Kirk's supermarket and Blackbeards – not a single place to sign this petition.


    You will definitely have to pick up the pace to meet your elusive goal…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Seems to me that if you can legally vote you can sign legally a petition. Signing a petition isn't against the government, it's just changing the law that the government is supposed to operate under. CS people can't be fired, look at the folks on paid leave who are pulling their regular checks even after they ran across Bush. CS, grow a pair and sign the petition. The government can't screw with all of you and the government may change next election anyway. With each MLA with one district, responsible mainly for those people, that MLA could actuallydisagree with the "boss" and still have a chance of getting reelected, maybe even a better chance (think Boddentown for instance). They won't have to kiss up to the boss in order to get onto the Georgetown or West Bay party  "ticket." The boss will have to listen to MLA's who are popular in their own districts or he may not get their votes in the LA. The present setup creates a dictator because of his control of the party tickets in the multi-member districts. .

  3. Anonymous says:

    God is looking down on Cayman. Arden and Ezzard will get 75% of our country's electorate and THAT will be the greatest day in the history of our beloved islands.

  4. Anonymous says:

    One "Person", One Vote.

    don't be a bigot.

  5. Anonymous says:

    16 years ago I got a dishwasher.


    8 years ago I got a dryer.


    4 years ago I got a washer.


    Why would I rock the boat now?

  6. Anonymous says:

    After we go to one man one vote, and we have 16 or so representatives with some party affiliation or independents.  Then they get together amongst themselves and select the premier?  That is when the real deal making will be done and we will have even less representation as they will represent each other.  This doesn't sound like progress.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Arden, Ezzard and Alden,  you need to go house to house to get these signatures, as there are a lot of people locked in and prefers to not be seen, but heard. Start your campaign by going house to house, mainly in George Town and Yes…West Bay.  Do NOT be afraid of West Bay, as there are a lot of non UDP supporters there.  You also needs to do a young person drive to register to vote.  A lot of young people has opinions too, but don't know how to register to vote.  Reason why some of them are not registering is because they do not want to become a juror because they have voted.  That is their turn off from voting, along with the fact that they hate politics.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well of course they are not Austin Harris. Mr. Harris is a well respected and highly intelligent talk show host on Rooster 101’s Cayman Cross Talk.
    He is a luminary communicator on issues facing the country.We should be very proud of him and the great work he is doing in debating and challenging publicly the actions of this UDP government.
    It is senseless to try to draw a comparison of a past candidate and elected officials. By the way Mr. Harris and the two opposition members are on the same page , so why try to discredit him. Mr. Harris has proven to be an intellectual force to be reckoned with. He and Mr. Gilbert McLean as Co Hosts of the Cayman Cross Talk Show is doing a great service to the people of the Cayman Islands as they bring to you issues that impact the lives of the people of the Cayman Islands and the injustices of this present government.
    I am proud of these young men and so should you. Mr. Arden McLean and Mr. Ezzard Miller are serving members of the Cayman Islands Legislature therefore it is to be expected that they should deliver more signatures on this petition than Mr. Austin Harris a voting constitutient, past candidate and a layman and talk show host. These kinds of results come with the territory all parties occupy, so in the future and from now on please cease from attacking the intelligent Caymanians thatare looking out for the good of the country there is way too much attacks being launched at those community leaders. I’d say its time to launch attacks at those former senior or principal civil servants and George Town business men who forced our people and begged you to vote for McKeeva Bush and this UDP government; and they never came back to apologize or even sympathize or reprimand him for what he is doing i.e. ignoring the wishes of the people of the Cayman Islands. Put your focus on them it would make more sense.

  9. nauticalone says:

    While i can understand there may be some fear among Civil Servants about signing a petition…i would like to point out that this petition is about a Civil Right that is enshrined in the Constitution.

    The current Govt. has simply said that they will not be initiating One Man/Woman One vote as they did not support the Constitution…and therefore do not agree with such.

    This does not change the fact that the Democratic Civil Right of One Man/Woman One Vote is a part of Cayman's Constitution…that a majority of voters support.

    Signing or not signing this Petition is each voters Right!

    Civil Servants are not to publicly speak out against the Govt. i am not aware that because one is a Civil Servant that such relinquishes ones Rights as contained in the Constitution.

    Please do not allow anyone to dictate what you do with your own Civil Rights

    I am a Civil Servant and will be signing it…and have spoken with others who have stated they will also. I respect the Deputy governor and many others in Govt. but i am also a responsible adult and will not be waiting on permission from anyone as to my Civil Rights.

    • cayman stew says:

      The problem I saw with Alden and Kurt, and our Constitution, was that theydidn't put inside the Constitution enough penalities for breaching it.  And they could have put more things therein so that people wouldn't have to be doing all of these demonstrations whilst getting us no where. The Constitution was not just what I expected, and the Uk played a major role on what we could put or take away from it. It is definitely not a People's Constitution. It is more like an Elite one for that matter. 

      • nauticalone says:

        I agree that the Consitution needs to be improved! And i submitted those concerns to Alden and the Contitutional Commissioner leading up to the vote in 2009.

        However i understand the difficulty with getting the 2009 Contitution in place as so many Religionists/Conservatives were against most Human/Civil Rights because of Homophobia and giving the People/Voters more Power.

        Alden promised to work for continued improvements on the Contitution going forward post 2009 and i see this effort by him, Ezzard, Arden and others as working towards improvement to what the People have repeatedly said is wanted and fair.

        But it's really up to us the People to Stand and be Counted…so as to Improve on the Constitution as it is not a Static Document…it's ours to change where needed and to grow with as a People…

        There are those who are counting on us to just give up do nothing.

        But there is a growing number of us who are for Fairness and All Peoples Civil Rights…for True Democracy! And who are willing to continue to strive for such.

        • Anonymous says:

          You  believed tghat "living Consitution" stuff, did you.  Don't be naive.  That consitution is about as living as ironshore.  It's made specifically to be very difficult to change, which is why the clergy hoodwinked the country into voting for it.  Well, at least we won't have to worry about gay rights in Cayman!

          Seriously, the only way Cayman gets an "improved" constitution – and the UK totally understands this – is for the country to go independent.

          Until then, we will reap the political harvest sown by the PPM. 

          • Anonymous says:

            What rubbish. We can have amendments to the Constitution if that reflects the will of the people.  

            • Anonymous says:

              Yes, you can amend the Constitution, but it's very, very, very difficult.

              In general, a referendum – proposed by the government – is the way constitutional amendments can happen.  There's also the route of people-initiated referendums, but the threshhold for passage of those is too high to be considered realistic.

              The UK government can, under special circumstances, allow a constitutional amendment without a referendum, but this would not be for matters of national importance.

              In practice, the only realistic way for the people of Cayman to institute consitutional change of any significance is to elect a goverment that has a mandate to institute the specific change and then have that government call for a referendum.

              This process is difficult,  lenghty and costly – as it was designed to be.  To give the impression the many shortcomings of the current Constitution can simply be "improved" easily is a misconception many people, and apparently you, have.

              • Anonymous says:

                I was responding to the statement "Seriously, the only way Cayman gets an "improved" constitution – and the UK totally understands this – is for the country to go independent". That is false.

  10. Michael Mouse says:

    How many times can cartoon characters sign?  The last petition I got in again and again and again.

  11. Anonymous says:

    These two will do anything to get elected….They know it does absolutely nothing to their districts because that is what they already have and what they are used to so they have nothing to worry about.. They want it done in every other district so that they stand a better chance for power and the spoils of the cabinet and premiers office. They will never get it in their present one man constituencies.  I don't see one other politician running around with them preaching one man one vote..

    These guys are has beens and what I like to call recycled politicians. The whole lot including the PPM, UDP and Ezzard need to go and a new level and standard beset for our politicians. This is not what we want in politicians and I think it's time for all of them to go and we get soem fresh, young educated blood in there to run the country.


    I'm sick and tired of all the grandstanding and pompous attitudes. Stand up and be real men. Work together and stop tearing the country apart limb by limb.

  12. Anonymous says:

    You will do well with ‘Austin elected in George Town.
    Austin need to replace Elio Solomon he’s more intelligent and more humble.

  13. Anonymous1 says:

    If Ezzard and Arden are really serious, they better fight for us being able to RECALL and REMOVE politicians during their term in office. And see that the CS are not penalized for putting down their names on the paper. That way we can get out McKeeva and most of them. They should not use DEMOCRACY as a means to an end so they can get re-elected. That would be a grave sin.

    • Dred says:

      It can be done already.

      You must do a petition for a referendum. If you proivide X amount of signatures it can be presented. Its in the constitution. It is not easy though.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ezzard and Arden will get re-elected regardless.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Things change, you will be surprised.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Austin Harris tried to get voters to sign this? Will they accept cruise shippers and children on this petition?

    I thought Ezzard was going to England.

    • hoping for releif says:

      To 12:50 Why will you try to set people up or try to put words in their mouth. So what if Austin asked the listening audience to sign the petion. I saw the list and let me tell you these gentlemen have done a professional job on making sure that there is no dirty politricks here. You should ask to sign so you can see for your self that it is safe.

      The ONE MAN, ONE VOTE, is just what we need , the PPM, UDP needs to be abolished, they are disgusting.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Can we please get the guidance we've been promised from the Deputy Governor so that civil servants know whether we can sign the petition?

    • Anonymous says:

      Guidance? What guidance? Do you know how unpopular the right decision on this would be with the politicians? When you are running in a popularity contest to get and stay at the top you just do not rock the boat my dear!

  17. Sign says:

    Anyone who wants to sign the petition can do so at the public meeting to be held tonight in George Town. There will be people with the petition available so please bring your ID with you.



    • Anonymous says:

      Make sure that it is signed by registered voters only for it to be valid.  

  18. Anonymous says:

    This is merely another political stunt by the Ezzard and Arden Show.  People-initiated referendums have virtually no chance of success under the current constitution and were only included to give lip service to the idea that people are empowered. Since it was Arden's government that pushed the awful Constitution we must now live under, he should know that. quite well.  Can we please stop with all the Politricks and try to tackle some real issues, like the spiraling rate of crimes?

    • Anonymous says:

      I so agree with you, they want to break McKeeva's hold of West Bay before the next election. That is what this is about politics. If this was important to the PPM they could have locked it in when they negoticated the constitution. I never heard Ezzard or Arden talk much about this during the years of constitutional discussions.

      Games is what we get from these guys.

      When will they face crime in Cayman? When they pass a Conservation Law.

  19. Old Sea Captain says:

    This is another waste of time. If they get 99% of the electorate to sign it will make no difference to Mac as he do not support this. I will sign a petition that gives me a right to vote for the 15 candidates from an islandwide slate of candidates that I believe is best suited to represent me. This 'one man one vote' is a step backwards. Gone are the days that we needed individual district representatives. Whatever the West Bay or Cayman Brac representatives decide to do under our current system will effect me whether I live in East End or Little Cayman. WE NEED TO HAVE NATIONAL ELECTIONS, this will ensure that we elect the 'cream of the crop' from the candidates that stand for elections.

    If we think we have people elected to the Legislative Asembly now that should never have been, go to 'one man one vote'.

    Lord please help us, we need help.

    • Bueller says:

      Exactly. Get rid of electoral districts all together, let everyone vote for 3 people, regardless of district, and the 15 with the most votes are in. Simple.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Voters need to ask themselves only one question.

    "If its good for the country and some elected leaders are against it, why are they against it?"

    We have a culture that seems to believe if an act is normal, or customary, its not corrupt. Such as, political travel /  asking for personal favors in Immigration / driveways / etc. This attitude is very dangerous and is a primary cause of our social and financial woes. Attitude is everything.

    My is advise is assume all our politicians are corrupt. To not judge them as people, but on single acts. For instance, Mr. Miller may be right about this issue, but it certainly does not make him a good or bad person. Or right on all, many, or even half of the other issues he raises. For instance his attacks on Dart, who employs more Caymanians than voted for Ezzard, is nothing but scaremongering. 


  21. Anonymous says:

    Can we assume from this that you have solved all Cayman's more important problems? Or should we assume that you just want to keep your names in the papers? I can't think of anything you could spend your time and energy on that is less likely to make a difference to the day to day lives of anyone in this country.


    I have always oppose the figure of 25% of the country's electorate, needed to petition for a referendum. Most of the Civil Servants are consisting of the electorateand they are on government's side – not the side of the private sector and rest of Cayman workers. A chunk of that 25% makes it hard for democracy to work in the Cayman Islands. I guess the authorities wanted it that way. I have always recommended at least 15% of the country's electorate to initiate a referendum. We need more participatory democracy in the Cayman Islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      The 25 per cent threshhold comes from the law of the land, the Cayman Islands Constitution. That document was made very difficult to change.  Did you vote for it?  If so, shame on you.  If not, opposing it now is a useless gesture. 

      That said, I agree the threshold shold be relatively high (maybe not 25% thought) becaue you don't want opposition politicians constantly aggitating for referendums just because they feel like they should be seen like they're doing something.


      • Anonymously!! says:

        I'm one of the few that refused to vote for the constitution in 2009 and I'm not sorry at all. However I sure hope and pray that we can get some good politicians that wont sell us out but will represent the people. Its time for a change and 2013 cant come too soon. A clean sweep from every corner.

      • Anonymous says:

        You appear to be a dummy to believe that more power should be vest in the hands of this government and not in the people's hands. What?  Increase the 25 percentage?  Are you mad???  You need fair referendums for democracy to work!  Stop talking foolishness!

        • Anonymous says:

          I think you misread the post. It was saying that perhaps the % should not be as high as 25%.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes, correct, I was trying to say that perhaps it shouldn't be as high as 25%, but it still should be relatively high – maybe 20%.  But this argument is moot because the constitution says differently.

    • Dred says:

      It's not that they are on the governments side its just that they can not speak without repercussions.

    • Anonymous says:

      How do you know how the CS will vote?  They can't even sign petitions.

  23. Anonymous says:

    remember only vote each & no tourists, no expats, no cruise shippers, no children, no pets….etc.

  24. James Ebanks says:

    I am ready to sign this just as i signed the one by Austin and Gilbert. We as caymanians need to stand up and do the right thing, no matter how many times it takes. 

  25. Walton says:

    Arden / Ezzard, how about getting 25% of the electorate to change the entire Constitution and the provision for the people to recall MLAs like yourselves. I am sick of this party politics, piece-meal attempts for change!  We deserve better for better representation!

    • How about says:

      How about, you exercising a little common sense. changes made by Arden and Ezzard have to be done this way because the Under Dart Power government will not support them in the L.A. even when their motions are for the betterment of Cayman. Try go sit down or talk sense nah man!

    • Anonymous says:

      Those are two that you do not need to recall. They are representing the people unlike our useless govt.

  26. Anonymous says:

    As long as civil servants fear for their jobs and are prevented (either legally or through coercion)  from participating in such a process, then the process is unfortunately doomed to fail. The former deputy govenor failed to make any kind of substantial ruling as to whether CS are leglly able to participate in such petitions and I expect the new deputy govenor will take his time coming to any decision as well..


  27. Anonymous says:

    Be afaid, Cayman, be very afraid. A UDP supporter who STILL hasn't had enough of the UDP

  28. Anonymous says:

    Another thing that  needs to change as well is only being able to vote for someone in your district. I mean if someone is gonna run the whole country, why shouldn't everyone be able to vote for that person.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bad idea. Local representation is needed. While on the surface it may appear desirable for the Premier to be elected nationally it will not work where other Cabinet Ministers are also elected where you could end up with a Premier and a Cabinet who have nothing in common.  

  29. Anonymous says:

    Just wondering????


    Will Civil Service members be restricted from signing the petition?  That "rumor" is already making the rounds.  Better question is:   Who started the "rumor"?

  30. Anonymous says:

    I am happy that this is being done. I will sign and so will every one of the voters in my family.

  31. Anonymous says:

    LOL! Poor Austin Harris never got 500 signatures for this issue so I don’t know why they think they’re gonna get enough.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are not Austin Harris. Watch them get it. Where is the petition so I can sign?

    • Dred says:

      I think you might be surprised be the response this gets.

      I believe the people of Cayman have had enough of the stupidness that is going on and wants to see a change. I can tell you from now my signature will be on this document. It's not about I feel bad for Northside or East End but I believe that by one man one vote we MAY see Independents winningmore seats in the house thereby leading us to more people with FREE thoughts. This is something we direly need.

      • Praying4Changes says:

        Does anyone know if there will be another oppotunity to sign the petition, or is this just a one time thing?

        I'd really like to put my name on there as I have seen the marvelous works of the EBC and have spoken to Mr. Dundas myself, and am 150% all for one man one vote in our islands.

        Please tell me that we will see this petition out there being circulated to get the 25% of signatures that we need to make a change! (even if you guys gotta stand outside FOSTERS with it waiting for people to come outside…I do not care, let's do what we have to do to get this publicized across the Cayman Islands and have our people sign this thing!)


        Listening out for some good word! 😉

    • Anonymous says:

      LOL. All the thumbs downs…bet half of you didn’t even sign Austin Harris’ petition. I know my signature was one of the >500.

      • Anonymous says:

        I didn't even know about his petition but I will certainly sign this one. 

    • THE BELL CRACK says:

      Advice to all UDP MLA's try so get your CV and or Resume ready to send out. Sorry to tell you  out of work politicans cant work at Camana Bay. Time longer than rope. RIP.

    • anonymous says:

      of course, civil servants are not too optimistic about putting their names on a paper

    • Anonymous says:

      Thats because it was Austin Harris!! 

    • Anonymous says:

      Be afaid, Cayman, be very afraid. A UDP supporter who STILL hasn't had enough of the UDP.