Equity – no exceptions

| 12/04/2012

When it comes to the arguments for and against single member constituencies, the premier is right about one thing: the idea put forward by the PPM of having two voting systems in one country is absurd. If it is wrong for the people of George Town, West Bay and Bodden Town to have more say in the outcome of the general elections by having more than one vote, then it is equally wrong for the people of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman to have two votes, even more so if the system changed so that the rest of the electorate has only one.

The opposition, including the PPM Sister Islands representative, must decide whether they believe in one man, one vote (OMOV) or not. To campaign for a more democratic system but then water it down with an exception for one district weakens their whole argument – and potentially damages the wider campaign for a more democratic system. It’s either a principle they believe in or it isn’t.

The idea for ‘one country, two systems’ emerged at public meetings during the discussion period for the new constitution during the PPM administration. It was daft then and it’s daft now. There is no more reason for the multi-vote system in the Sister Islands than there is in any other district and the same arguments against it apply.

But by not showing proper leadership and explaining to the voters here why OMOV is better, they have made their position on this issue appear feeble, which may well cast doubts in the minds of the people they need to convince of the benefits of the OMOV system. Why should George Town voters give up some of their power for the good of the country if Brackers are not going to be asked to make the same sacrifice? What if West Bay voters decide they want to be an exception, too?

And all this is bad news for supporters of OMOV in the upcoming referendum. Not only does it give supporters of the status quo real ammunition to undermine every single argument in favour of OMOV but there are 981 voters on the two Sister Islands (at the last count), and if they want them to vote ‘yes’ to single member constituencies in the national ballot this summer, the PPM had better start repairing the damage and explaining why they should.

Both the 2003 andthe 2010 Electoral Boundary Commissions have suggested dividing the Sister Islands into two districts if single member constituencies were introduced: Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman would be one district and Cayman Brac East would be the other.

At every meeting I’ve ever attended every Brac resident was against this idea, wanting to keep the voting system in the Sister Islands unchanged, whatever they do in Grand Cayman. And even though the PPM supposedly supports OMOV, so far I haven’t heard any efforts on the part of any politician to persuade the Brac voters of its value across the board, apparently preferring to pacify the people than lead or educate them. 

If the opposition is going to drop the ball, then the independent campaigners for OMOV need to spend time on the Brac and Little Cayman persuading the voters here of its merits.

Brackers will argue that the two MLAs for the Sister Islands need to work together for the good of the two islands and that dividing the district would split their loyalty. However, as it now stands the two incumbents, one from each party, do not work together at all – I’m not even sure if they speak to each other – and have not from the start of the previous administration. Before that, when we had two UDP representatives, the animosity was, if anything, worse. 

The voters here also say that the issues for the people here are largely uniform across the two islands; the economy, tourism, infrastructure – these are issues that affect us all. Well, yes, but there is no need to think that the divide will mean that the MLAs should only concern themselves with what goes on within a strict geographical boundary.

MLAs do not represent land mass; they represent the people who live in a certain area and are charged by those people to work on their behalf in the political arena and to stand up for their interests. The MLA for Cayman Brac East, therefore, should still be concerned with any aspect of the running of the island that affects his or her constituents.

The hotel area, for example, may be in the west but it offers employment for people living in the east; residents of Spot Bay still count on the airport, the fire service and the hospital; people in Cotton Tree Bay rely on the dock at the Creek; everyone needs a good power supply.

MLAs who want to double up services just to have them in their district (a negative to OMOV that the premier pointed out in his speech in the LA) are financially irresponsible and should not have been elected in the first place. But all MLAs worth their salt will work for the good of the island as a whole, and the country as a whole, because it will benefit their constituents, and there is no reason at all why the two Sister Islands representatives in single member constituencies should not work together to achieve this (if we could just find two suitable candidates on speaking terms).

As is the case for Grand Cayman, the issue is about equity – the current system is not fair – and accountability. At the end of every four years, your MLA, whether they are in government or in opposition, should be able to stand up and say, “This is what I did for you …”

Category: Viewpoint

Comments (35)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Don't be confused by this article.  This referendum is to be about one man one vote (OMOV)…. that's all.  Every voter selects their one candidate and votes for them.  I'm a Bracker and I will be voting yes for OMOV.  

    All the rest of this article is just confusing the issue.  The constitution gives us two representatives, so the two candidates with the most votes will be our MLAs.  We need two MLAs because they have to deal with many more daily issues due to the separate public services required due to our remote location.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are 980 voters in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Let us for arguments sake say 5 people are nominated as candidates for the next election. Suppose one candidate gets 950 votes and the other 4 candidates share the remaining 30 votes. Do you really believe that a person with less than 30 votes is representative of the majority of the voters in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman?

      What happens if the second and third place get the exact same amount of votes?

      • Anonymous says:

        How is that any different from the present system? It is also possible under the present system for the second elected member to have few votes or for candidates to have an equal number of votes.   

      • Anonymous says:

        There should be 1 MLA for the sister islands and civil servants can deal with the day to day problems of the sister islands the MLA can steer policy toward the sister islands. Just as the North Side and East End are over represented with such small districts. As part of the electorial advancement redistricting should be dealt with. The tribal district mentality no longer serves the country.

  2. Anonymous says:

    "A Petition for a people-initiated Referendum, as provided for by the Cayman Islands Constitutional Order 2009, to call for Single Member Constituencies/One Person, One Vote to be implemented for the next General Election to be held May 2013"

     

    Isn't that what the Opposition leader signed?

    • Anonymous says:

      Again:
      If the people of EE and NS have 1 Representative for every 500 voters there, then the people of GT, BT, WB etcetera should also have 1 Representative for every 500 voters.
      So there should be 10 Representatives for GT.
      OR:
      Make NS and EE one electoral district of 1000 with one Representative, and then we use the ratio of 1 Representative to 1000 voters to ensure equality..

      • Anonymous1 says:

        Again:

        I have said this over and over again… just evenly have two representatives per district, which adds up to 12 MLAs… end of story. In the United States, you only have 2 Senators per state, and you know there are millions of people in just one state.

        • Anonymous says:

          Again this is not America.

        • Anonymous says:

          you are an idiot….plain and simple.

          In addition to 2 senators per each state there are also 435 members of congress that represents those states. Each state also has their own legislature and their own governor and own Supreme Court. They also have mayors and councilors and aldermen.

          It is idiots like you that throw these little tidbits out and think you are making a case. all you are doing is spreading your stupidness to which there is no cure.

  3. Anonymous says:

    All the Brac & LC needs is one GOOD MLA, not 2 tearing each other up

  4. Anonnymous says:

    It quite "curious" as Austin would say, that with all the push for OMOV the fact that they do not intend for it to apply to the Sister Islands isn't mentioned.  I am inclined toward OMOV – but for the Cayman Islands, not just for Grand Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      The PPM position is OMOV for Brackers. It is not proposed that Brackers have two votes.  what is proposed is that the Brac remain as only one constituency with the top two polling candidates being returned.  But Brackers would only be able to choose one.  Brackers almost to a person oppose the division of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman into two constituncies.  The PPM proposal was and remains an effort to bring equity to all voters while honouring the the wish of the majority of Brackers not to divide the Sister Islands into two consituencies. 

      You have misunderstood the position, Nicky, and therefore the premise of your article is mistaken,

      • Nicky Watson says:

        No, the premise of the article is equity, so unless this option is offered to all districts, it makes very little difference. If the Sister Islands is one constituency, then it should have one MLA – it is less than 1,000 voters, after all – or it should be two districts with two MLAs, and I think a case could be made for either. But even with a 'first two candidates past the post' system, which would still give each CB&LC voter two representatives, it is unfair to the electorate in other districts.

        • Anonymous says:

          The premise of the article is stated in its first two paragraphs:

          "… then it is equally wrong for the people of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman to have two votes, even more so if the system changed so that the rest of the electorate has only one.

          "The opposition, including the PPM Sister Islands representative, must decide whether they believe in one man, one vote (OMOV) or not".

          I think you need to admit that it was incorrect and not simply gloss over it.  

          The PPM leader does have a point that CB and LC are not merely districts; as separate islands they are two thirds of the three Cayman Islands. However, that is not what is being decided on the referendum and no one should become confused by this article. 

      • Anonymous says:

        So what you're saying is that the PPM does not support single member constituencies?

    • Anonymous says:

      Which "they"?. Either you are confused or you are trying to confuse others. The petition, which was signed by the Leader of the Opposition, calls for one man one vote single member constituencies throughout the Cayman Islands. The Premier has announced that the referendum will be on that same question. This is McKeeva & Co. attempting to divide and conquer.   

  5. Anonymous says:

    I will not be giving up my multiple votes for anyone. I brackets arethe smartest on this issue. Go brackers do not let the folks in Grand Cayman decide your future. Stick to your guns. Your vote counts too.

    • Truth says:

      Spoken like a man who has gotten used to getting more than he deserves and does not want to give it up.  Listen as the ones who payed for you talk.

      • Like It Is says:

        "Spoken like a man who has gotten used to getting more than he deserves and does not want to give it up.", or as we say " A Bracker".

    • Polly Dactyl says:

      Go independent then. That would be a laugh.

  6. Anonymous says:

    For Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, why not allow each person to vote once, and then the top two candidates receive the seats.  It will have the same effect, but it won't require dividing the Sister Islands into two districts.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I would have thought that no matter how many candidates were on the ballot paper for CB & LC, there would still be one man oone vote, but the two candidates with mos votes would be declared the winners. Is nicky saying this is not the case?

  8. nauticalone says:

    Very well said Nicky! Agree with you completely.

  9. The Parliamentarian says:

    If it is a democracy, then it MUST be one man one vote.  Anything else is dirty politics.

  10. Anonymous says:

    McKeeva brought this up so the people in Grand Cayman won't vote for it.  Divide and conquer working well isn't it?

  11. Anonymous says:

    The Petition did not make any distinction between Sister Islands and Grand Cayman but proposed one man one vote single member constituencies for the Cayman Islands, so if the Referendum follows the Petition (as it should) then this is an academic point since the PPM Leader signed the Petition.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The greed and self-interest in the LA is universal.  I am in favour of any initiative that reduces the number of MLA payrolls, double dips, and overall heft of the CIG.  The LA should be made to reverse the payroll increases they gave themselves and pension double dipping should be as illegal as it is immoral.  I don't see how adding districts will do anything to improve the current payroll economics or quell the egos that thirst for fame.

  13. T308 says:

    Nicky:  "Well, yes, but there is no need to think that the divide will mean that the MLAs should only concern themselves with what goes on within a strictgeographical boundary."

    Unfortunately, that is exactly what is going to happen. Politicians will cause a divide in the Brac. Don't entertain the thought that it will all be about the people who elected them. Keep it simple:-  Cayman Brac and LC should just have a slate of candidates, and whichever two candidates gets the most votes, becomes their MLAs. It should be the same in Grand Cayman. A national slate of candidates for the entire island. Whichever sixteen candidates gets the most votes, becomes 16 MLAs with the 2 MLAs from the Brac / LC = 18 MLAs.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why does your logic not extend to a national slate of 18 candidates with no seats reserved for the Brac/LC?

  14. Slowpoke says:

    You are absolutely right.  This is a decision about the "Country's" voting system, not about special interest sub-groups.  I am a strong supporter of OPOV, but am not interested in giving up my six votes, if it does not apply equally to everyone else.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Nicky, why are you accusing the PPM?  Yes, the Constitution came from them, but UDP help craft it too!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thank God for a burst of common sense from Ms Watson on this matter. Many of us are sick to death of the Sister Islands always being able to grab more than their fair share of the resources in this country but paving roads unnecessarily, creating a major unneeded international airport, and fixing up peoples' driveways and parking lots is one thing – unfair corrupt and vote-grabbing though it may be. Changing the way we elect our politicians in Grand Cayman while leaving them with the present system in the Sister Islands is quite another and must not be allowed to happen. If that is what is proposed in the final analysis, I and my family will not vote for OMOV.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is not what is proposed in the petition or the referendum. It clearly proposes OMOV Single Member Constituencies. Unfortunately this article is serving to confuse the issue.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I am Caymanian, I vote, I live in the Sister Islands and I support one person one vote – in the Sister Islands and in every other district in Cayman. From my conversations with other voters here so do almost all otherSister Island voters. I think that the idea that we want to keep the current system was created when a few of the few people who showed up Cayman Brac to talk to the Boundary Commission said that they did not have a problem with the way things are. Those few do not speak for the rest of us.