Archive for July 19th, 2012

Vote hijacked says Mac

| 19/07/2012 | 80 Comments

mac_1.JPG(CNS): Political bosses who are desperate for power hi-jacked the national referendum on single member constituencies, the premier said in the early hours of Thursday morning when he delivered a speech to his UDP supporters in George Town after the result. McKeeva Bush said he wanted to acknowledge what he said were the “well intentioned young Caymanians” that had started the OMOV movement based on their beliefs but he said it was “hi-jacked by the political bosses”. Bush himself was accused of hi-jacking the campaign started by those same grassroots activists when he decided to set the referendum on government’s and not the people’s terms. (Photo courtesy of Cayman27)

During his speech after the polls closed, when a majority ofvoters had polled in favour of single member constituencies, Bush made it clear he believed the result was still a ‘no’ because of those who did not vote. He accused the opposition party and the independent member for North Side of taking over what had started as a discussion about the country’s electoral system.

“It was unfortunate that it was hi-jacked by political bosses so desperate to grasp power they would trample on anybody to get a platform,” Bush told the UDP crowd. “Unfortunately what seemed to start off as a discussion about the political system and a choice between multi-member and single-member constituencies quickly turned into a tidal wave of PPM and political rants.”

He said the people saw through this as they didn’t want the electoral boundaries redefined only to make it easier for the opposition to get elected.

Bush admitted that the campaign was heated, as he said there was too much politics put into it by those political bosses and opposition members because they brought the Dart issue, the weakness of economy and “used everything against government and every weapon they had” during the OMOV campaign.

Defying logic, the premier stated that the results of the referendum spoke for themselves, and despite the fact that voters polled two to one in favour of single member constituencies, because some voters did not vote he said that they had spoken. He claimed the results reflected the wishes of the people but he said the elections office was wrong about the poll being advisory and maintained that it was a binding referendum.

Bush also said that the people who did go out and vote ‘yes” were all PPM people. The people in his own constituency of West Bay, on the other hand, were upset about the referendum and he stated that “hundreds of them” had told him that government should not have spent money on the vote and they “felt as the constitution said what it said they could stay away and still register the vote, so they stayed away,” he said.

The PPM people came out in force “because they had to or else,” Bush told the crowd, but his people stayed home and the UDP had not been running around getting people to come out. He said all the government had done was have a few meetings.

The good thing about the result was that the majority of voters said 'no' by staying away or by coming to the polls to vote ‘no', Bush claimed, and according to the constitution that meant there was a ‘no’ majority. Quoting the constitution, he referred to the sections dealing with a people-initiated referendum and not a government sponsored poll, which is dealt with under a different section. (See viewpoint Not all referenda are equal.) This was a government ballot as the petition for the people-initiated referendum asking for a November poll was never submitted.

Bush pointed to the difficulties his government now had to focus on, including his failure as minister of finance to produce a budget and the challenging economic climate.  “We have our work cut out for us,” he said, as he urged people to join government to help solve its problems and work to turn the economy around and create jobs.

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Over 80% reject status quo

| 19/07/2012 | 40 Comments

_DSC8018-web.jpg(CNS): Although the Cayman Islands premier believes that the people who stayed away from the polls yesterday were rejecting single member constituencies, their failure to vote can also be seen as a rejection of the current voting system. 19.7% of the registered voters cast their ballot against the idea of one man, one vote in single member constituencies, favouring the current voting system. However, in contrast over 37.1% specifically voted in favour of that system and close to 43% chose not to vote either for or against that system. Although 80% of voters did not actively support the status quo or were very clearly supporting OMOV, McKeeva Bush has stated that as far as he is concerned the referendum was binding in favour of the current system and not, as the election’s office has said, advisory.

In a speech to his supporters in the early hours of Thursday morning following the referendum, which was carried almost two to one in favour of single member constituencies by those that voted, the premier described the result as a win for multi-member constituencies. Even though the vote was more than 2-1 in favour, it did not attain the artificially high standard designed only for people-initiated referendum of 50% plus 1 of registered voters and Bush is not taking the result on advice.

“The majority of registered voters placed a ‘no’ and voted by staying away or coming to the polls and voting ‘no’ to single member constituencies. Nobody can make it any other how that’s what happened,” he said. “The people of the Cayman Islands have spoken and so we must all listen. They have said clearly that this country has other more urgent national issues than single member constituencies.”

However, according to the poll the result was a clear majority for ‘yes’ to the question calling for change, as 61.5% of voters polled voted in favour of the referendum. And although the turnout was lower than Cayman has come to expect in general elections, for a mid-term standalone referendum during the summer break, the number of voters in comparison to other national polls was not insignificant. A majority of registered electors, more than 57%, did take the time to go to the polls and vote for the referendum question.

Following the final result, Ezzard Miller, the independent member for North Side who spearheaded the campaign, said the premier could not claim victory. With 80% of the electorate making it quite evident that they did not support the status quo and the current political system, Bush could not take that as a win for the multi-member system, he said.

“There is no question that 80% of the electorate is not satisfied with the status quo,” he said adding that the premier was wrong to assume the people who didn’t go to the polls would have voted ‘no.’

“The trend was a very clear 2-1 in the major constituencies of George Town and Bodden Town and it would have likely continued in that vein regardless of the numbers. Even in his stronghold of West Bay, in the wake of him spending $100,000 of the people’s money on the ‘no’ campaign, the people in that district only voted against the referendum with the slimmest margin,” Miller pointed out.

No matter how Bush attempted to spin the result, the independent member said the country’s leader had to face the fact that the voting public were overwhelmingly in favour of single member constituencies.

“We crossed the normal hurdle,” Miller stated. “Under any other circumstances with a majority of registered voters going to the polls and a majority of that vote in favour, the referendum would have carried. The problem is that it did not attain the artificial hurdle set by the UDP government.”

Miller said the poll was an emphatic vote for change.  “The people want change and they are clearly not satisfied with the level of representation they are getting and that was an important message delivered by those whovoted.”

Although Bush has not yet confirmed how government will accommodate three new seats in the Legislative Assembly at the next election, as provided for in the constitution, earlier indications from the premier were that he would add two seats to the capital and one in Bodden Town.  However, as the OMOV campaign gathered momentum, even Bush began to acknowledge that having voters in George Town casting six votes was unfair and that he wanted to place one of those seats in West Bay, even though the population does not support such a move.

The premier will in the coming months, however, have to decide how those new seats will be accommodated based on population and traditional district areas. He has rejected the Electoral Boundary Commission’s recommendation of a new seventh electoral district between George Town and Bodden Town, covering the communities of Spotts, Newlands and Savannah, leaving him with only one option that does not involve gerrymandering. This means registered voters living in George Town will be given significantly more influence on the election of the next government than any other district.

Final results of the national referendum on single member constituencies and one man, one vote are as follows:

National vote: 'yes' = 5631 (37.1% of registered voters), 'no' = 3,001 (19.7% of registered voters).  61.5% of those who voted, voted in favour of the quesiton.

CBLC:               yes – 256, no – 203
East End:          yes – 257, no – 79
North Side:        yes – 335, no – 56
West Bay:         yes – 1027, no – 1053
Bodden Town:    yes – 1396, no – 617
George Town:     yes –  2360, no – 993

Turn out was 8715 or 57.67% of registered voters

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Prisoner on the run

| 19/07/2012 | 21 Comments

jeremy holness july 2012.jpg(CNS): Updated 5pm — Officials from the RCIPS have now released a picture of the man who escaped from police custody while attending the hospital on Thursday lunchtime. Jeremy Claston Holness escaped from his police guard at around 12.30pm today while being treated at the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town. “Officers are currently searching for the man and an enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the escape will be conducted,” an RCIPS spokesperson stated. It was confirmed that the 30-year-old man was in police custody at the time of his escape after being arrested on Wednesday, 18 July, on suspicion of burglary. He is described as being 5’11” in height, weighing 185lbs with a light brown complexion, brown eyes.

Although the escaped man's head is shaven at present, his natural hair colour is black.

Holness is not considered a danger to the public but anyone who sees this man or knows of his present whereabouts is urged to contact their nearest police station. The RCIPS said that he was taken to the hospital in George Town after he complained of feeling unwell while in police custody.

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| 19/07/2012 | 0 Comments

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Not all referenda are equal

| 19/07/2012 | 71 Comments

The referendum that took place yesterday was clearly inspired by the will of the people. It was also guided by a very hardworking group of people. However,it was NOT a people-initiated referendum within the meaning of section 70 of the Constitution.  That may sound like an obscure point, but it has great significance in understanding what the vote count means.

The Constitution only provides for a threshold of 50% plus one of the registered voters under section 70, and it sets that threshold for a people-initiated referendum that is to be binding on government. All other referenda that are based on section 69 of the Constitution, and in section 69 of the Constitution there is no requirement for 50% plus one of registered voters. If there is anyone who doubts this, they should look at the 2009 Constitution which is available online.

The Constitution specifies that a people-initiated section 70 referendum can only take place after a petition has been submitted. The simple fact that the OMOV petition was never handed in to government prevents yesterday’s election from being a section 70 people-initiated referendum.

The government made a choice. They chose to make yesterday’s referendum a government sponsored section 69 referendum, rather than a people-initiated referendum, when they declared the referendum before any petition could be handed in. The government undoubtedly had their reasons for setting the timing of the referendum prior to the the OMOV initiative submitting their petition.

There is nothing wrong with the government calling a referendum, but it is inappropriate for government to attempt to confuse the public's understanding of the requirements of the Constitution. Any suggestion by the government that a government sponsored referendum requires the support of 50% plus one of registered voters, rather than a simple majority of those casting votes, is simply not based on anything in the Constitution.

There is simply no requirement in section 69 of the Constitution for anything other than a majority of those voting to pass a referendum. It could even be argued that as yesterday’s referendum was a government referendum and the  government was clearly advocating that people vote NO, then the government lost the referendum as a clear majority of those voting rejected the government’s position.

There is also no basis in the Constitution for any suggestion by those seeking to spin the result that the number of people not voting should somehow be counted as invisible votes in favour of the government’s position. Not voting counts for nothing in the Constitution.

The government of the day may choose to say that they will not be bound by a YES vote of less than 50% of those registered to vote, or 50% of those that drive Volvos, or any percentage of anything else they choose. As the elected government and sponsors of a referendum they can choose any threshold they want for whatever purposes they choose. That does not change the fact that government sponsored referenda are to be counted on the basis of those voting, not those on the electoral register. That was what was done in the Constitution referendum of 2009.

It may be that the government’s spin doctors and so-called experts will now try to confuse the issue and the people by suggesting that the OMOV initiative somehow failed. That is simply not the case, according to the Constitution or on any realistic measure of what the people want. Spinning the result is politrix, it does not change what the Constitution says.

Approximately two-thirds of those voting in the referendum were in favour of the concept of one person one vote and single member constituencies. That is very good news. As a Caymanian I would like to thank everyone involved in the OMOV initiative for their efforts on behalf of democracy in this country. It is my sincere hope that they will keep up their efforts. Their selfless work to make Cayman better is a true inspiration.

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GT seals ‘Yes’ majority

| 19/07/2012 | 129 Comments

ballotboxref1 (268x300)_0.jpg(CNS): Despite the fact that the majority of people who came out to the polls on Wednesday to vote in the national referendum on one man, one vote voted in favour, the national poll has fallen short of the high bar set by government. In the capital electors voted well over two to one in favour, with 2,360 voting 'yes' and 993 voting 'no'. Although some 5,631 of voters overall polled in favour of changing the electoral system from multi-member constituencies with multiple voting to single member constituencies and OMOV, the premier has said he will not be swayed by a majority that falls short of 50% plus one of the entire electorate.

The count was completed by 11:30 on Wednesday evening with the results from the country's largest district coming in last.

At the final count 37% voted for OMOV and less than 20% against, but with over 33% failing to turn out at the polls, the referendum will not carry.

Results for OMOV national referendum

National vote: 'yes' = 5631, 'no' = 3,001 

CBLC:               yes – 256, no – 203
East End:          yes – 257, no – 79
North Side:        yes – 335, no – 56
West Bay:         yes – 1027, no – 1053
Bodden Town:    yes – 1396, no – 617
George Town:     yes –  2360, no – 993

Check back to CNS tomorrow for more on the historic referendum and what this means for the May 2013 election

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Bodden Town says ‘Yes’

| 19/07/2012 | 18 Comments

(CNS): After a disappointing result in West Bay, the OMOV campaign was boosted by an overwhelming 'yes' in the district of Bodden Town. The result went in favour of OMOV with 1,396 people voting in favour, while 617 people voted against the question in Cayman's fastest growing community, pushing up the national 'yes' count overall. However, it was already clear when the electors in West Bay voted a marginal 'no” that the referendum was lost. With only the George Town count left, the country will soon know the final tally and exactly how many people supported what was originally a grass roots movement to change Cayman's voting system.

Preliminary results:

CBLC:               yes – 256, no – 203
East End:          yes – 257, no – 79
North Side:        yes – 335, no – 56
West Bay:         yes – 1,027, no – 1053
Bodden Town:    yes – 1,396, no – 617

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East End ‘Yes’, West Bay ‘No’

| 19/07/2012 | 73 Comments

West bay vote.jpg(CNS): While voters in East End came out in support for one man, one vote, the OMOV campaigners will be bitterly disappointed with the West Bay result, where voters were almost equally split on the issue. In East End the preliminary result was 257 voters saying 'yes' but only 79 voting 'no'. However, in West Bay it was a very different story. Sealing the fate of the referendum, 1,053 West Bayers voted 'no'  while 1,027 voted 'yes'. With only two more districts to count, the best the OMOV campaign can now hope for is a moral victory in Bodden Town and the capital of George Town.

According to the premier, a majority vote in favour of OMOV that falls short of the 50% plus one of the electorate will not sway government to introduce single memebr constituencies.

McKeeva Bush has said he will be making a statement from the UDP referendum headquarters once the count is complete.

Preliminary Results of OMOV referendum

CBLC:           yes – 256, no – 203

East End:     yes – 257, no – 79

North Side    yes – 335, no – 56

West Bay:     yes  – 1027 no – 1053

 

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Miller celebrates in NS

| 19/07/2012 | 27 Comments

_DEW0080.jpg(CNS): With results overwhelmingly in favour of one man, one vote in the constituency of North Side, independent MLA Ezzard Miller had much to celebrate. Despite a lower than hoped for turn out across the country, indications in his own constituency are that those who have gone to the polls have voted 'yes.” More than 80% of registered voters there who went to the polls voted in favour of OMOV, representing more than 60% of the entire electorate. If that rate had been repeated across Cayman, it would have equated to a 'yes' result.

“I am appreciative of the turnout in North Side and pleased with the result as it shows when you work with the people for the benefit of the people you can get a good result,” he said. “It also demonstrates that the vitriolic attacks on me by the premier had no effect on the intelligent voters of North Side."

As the results began to come in on Wednesday evening indicating an overwhelming 'yes' vote in East End at 257 versus only 79 voting 'no” and a marginal 'yes' vote in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, Miller said he was still optimistic for a moral victory for the OMOV campaign, if not a legal one.

“I am still optimistic that the vote will show the majority of people who voted were supporters of OMOV," he said. “If we have a significant number of  'yes' votes across Cayman then the UDP will have some explaining to do. Based on the final result, I still plan to bring a motion that the government should take note of the majority of the turnout.”

Preliminary referendum results

CBLC:           yes – 256, no – 203

East End:     yes – 257, no – 79

North Side    yes – 335, no – 56

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Voters saying ‘Yes’ to OMOV

| 19/07/2012 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Although the count still has a long way to go, early results from the election command centre indicate that those who bothered to go to the polls are voting 'yes' to one man, one vote. In North Side 335 people have voted 'yes'  with only 56 people bothering to vote 'no', and even in the Sister Islands, where voter apathy was the most apparent, the final count there indicated 256 people voted 'yes' against 206 voting 'no'. Meanwhile, at the half way point of the count, in East End, so far the vote is heavily in favour of one man, one vote. Keep checking CNS for the latest live results.
 

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