Constitution threat to election

| 19/02/2013

lawsuit.jpg(CNS): Warnings by  North Side MLA Ezzard Miller that the results of the next general election could be challenged because of the language of the constitution as well as the bill of rights may be valid. Attorney General Samuel Bulgin wants to amend the constitution to prevent a possible upset, further undermining the campaign for one man-one vote, and to this end has sent a memo to members of the Legislative Assembly asking for their support to amend section 92 pluralizing the language and making the constitution support the current election system of multi-member constituencies. However, Miller has said he will not support the move and believes it will not prevent election challenges.

The request by the attorney general for the support of members to amend the constitution in section 92, part I, by inserting the words “or elected members” after the words “an elected member” is more than a minor change, Miller said. The North side MLA said it goes to the very heart of the one man-one vote campaign and the inequality of the current system, which was already the subject of a referendum, and as a result it should not be the case that the amendment could be made by way of an order in council.

In addition, Miller said, the addition of “or elected members” cannot change the fact that voters in single member constituencies with one vote are being discriminated against when compared to those voting in George Town, where they will have six.

The independent member stated that the only way to address this sticky problem is to have all voters at the next election cast just one vote. Miller explained that, because there was no time to address the multi-member constituency problem, the top six candidates in George Town would be elected and the top four in Bodden Town and West Bay. He said the elections law needs to be amended accordingly.

“It will be a lot easier for Election Office officials and candidates to teach people in the capital that they have just one vote rather than six," he said. “The inequality issue will not be addressed by altering this clause, as section 16 of the Bill of Rights is still an issue regarding equality. The attorney general’s proposal won’t prevent challenges under the Bill of Rights. This is a Band-Aid approach.”

Miller also noted that this move would “enhance the current situation” when the majority of people had voted against the status quo during the July referendum, which lost because of the artificially high bar set by the former UDP government.

“I do not think this is a minor amendment,” Miller said. “Especially as this was the subject of a referendum. I disagree entirely with this proposition,” he said.

Although the AG states in his memo that he believes that the existing language in the constitution would withstand a challenge, he said it was more advisable “to proactively seek to avert any potential which could conceivably be protracted and expensive.” Bulgin points out that to make a change to the constitution by order in council, the UK would require wide support from all elected members, which is not the case.

While the minority government has confirmed that its members agree and the UDP members are also believed to be in support of the AG’s suggestion, Miller is not alone in his opposition to the move. Arden McLean also opposes the amendment and Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin stated that the PPM would not support such a constitutional change so close to the election.

“The optics of this are all bad,” McLaughlin said, adding that it was inappropriate to make such a move at such a late stage.

See memo from the AG below.

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Category: Politics

Comments (55)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Excuse me, no.

    This is constitutional progression?

    Send a memo and if everyone agrees we just make a manuscript notation?

    The constutition is the Supreme Court of the land.
    What about the other stakeholder consult? Wtf??

    This is not the proper process or time

  2. Native. says:

    I know I am stepping on PPM toes when I degrade the Constitution, but it is a flimsy document that didn't came from US but was manipulated by religious ministers and moreover the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and only intelligent people see that we need more people-democracy, representation, and power over its leaders in these islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      It did come from us. We approved it in a referendum, remember. I agree that it has weaknesses in terms of checks and balances and these should be addressed as soon as possible.   

  3. Anonymous says:

    There once was a lawyer called Sam

    Who crossed the sea to Cayman

    Through the ranks he did rise

    But to his Lodge no surprise

    Until they sent his *ss back to Jam

    • Anonymous says:

      Too late for the "back to Jam." for AG (and 3500 others…)…Mac gave him Status. Thanks Mac

      • Anonymous says:

        And the AG despite the obvious conflict of interest and despite the fact he may well have been wrong, opined it was legal.

  4. BacKeeva Mush says:

    Constitution shmonstitution… Cayman needs strong leadership and nothing's stronger than a Diktater.  Think about it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The way our constitution was handled was a disgrace!  For all of you who joined in on the horse trading and the many trips to the UK as so called 'constitutional experts', we now have adocument that will ultimately destroy us financially and otherwise!  Had the public been given a fair chance to understand the issues and THEN allowed the majority vote of the public to carry the change and not just those that turned up to vote, THEN we might have stood a chance.  Instead special interest groups and the like managed to horse trade behind closed doors.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.

  6. Anonymous says:

    How very convienient for Ezzard to now say he won't support the change when this was exactly what he was asking for.

    • Anonymous says:

      You obviously don't understand the issue. The amendment would totally destroy Ezzard's argument that the constitution requires OMOV.  

       

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s exactly my point. Ezzard said many times on the radio before the referendum was called that a simple amendment to the constitution pluralizing those words was all that was necessary. Do you see where I’m going with this?? (i.e. Supporting the cause that furthers their own personal agenda.)

        • Anonymous says:

          No, you are clearly confused. Ezzard does NOT want it pluralised at all since that would take the legs outfrom under his argument that it requires one man, one vote.    

      • Anonymous says:

        But Ezzard's argument is utter gibberish.  

        • Anonymous says:

          I see what Ezzard is trying to say but Ezzard is not a lawyer and does not understand why that argument is very unlikely to succeed in court.

    • Anonymous says:

      As the poster below has said that's NOT what Ezzard was asking for at all. S. 92 of the Constititon reads:

      "Any person who is registered as an elector in an aelectoral district shall, while so registered, be entitled to vote at any election in that district for AN elected member of the Legislative Assembly"

      Ezzard argues that "AN" excludes multiple votes and therefore requires one man, one vote. 

      AG would like to amend s. 92 so that it says:

      "Any person who is registered as an elector in an an electoral district shall, while so registered, be entitled to vote at any election in that district for an elected member OR ELECTED MEMBERS of the Legislative Assembly"  so that it would be consistent with the multiple votes in multi-member constituencies.  

       

  7. Anonymous says:

    What is clear is that the court or UK needs to rule on this now.

    To me it seems like a typical power play, those that feel they might suffer in elections preparing a protest in advance so they can claim dirty tricks afterwards, or worse, they can claim invalid elections.

    Let the Court or UK put a nail in that coffin immediately. If the constitution is wrong, it can be corrected immediately. No hassle.

     

    I already see a dirty campaign in the making…

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree.

      Remmeber the US Presidential election – Florida – Hnaging Chads. That cost the Floridians millions becasue of a legal loophole that people weren't big enough to accept the obvious intention of.

      This is a clear drafting error. Surely nobody is arguing that the Constitution was intended to do anything else other than to formalise the way things were at the time.

      How can we argue that a change was needed to the constitution to move to OMOV (which is what the referendum so many wanted) and now argue that actually no referendum is needed because the constitution already required OMOV.

      To the extent that there are those amongst us who felt morally wronged by the way the Referendum was manipulated on debatable semantics, surely this is just as wrong minded.

  8. Batman says:

    Hopefully the constitution requres a complete flush of the current administration!!  We need an injection of young energy, coupled with new innovative ideas to change our course. Too much interpersonal politics and childish squabbles exists with the current Govt. They need to go work for a living, for a change. Nothing could be worse than expecting them to do any better this time. 

  9. Anonymous says:

    What we need to change is the A.G. He needs to go when we change to a new Government in May if not before.  

    • Anonymous says:

      And just who do you have in mind to replace him? 

      • Concerned Citizen says:

        Just about anyone?  To get an improvement I reckon that the job advertisement would only need to say "Watched a few episodes of CSI and name does not contain the word Bulgin". 

      • Anonymous says:

        Anyone honest will do.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Maybe we should have equally sized constituencies of a meaningful size to people don't end up getting elected with 250 odd votes.

    • Anonymous says:

      I've been saying that for two years.  It's the only system that makes sense, given the small size of Cayman's electorate.

    • Anonymous says:

      i.e. that is the best you have of getting rid of Ezzard. Nice try. lol.

  11. Anonymous says:

    No way. Too late. Sloppy, reactive and inefficient. Typical PPM hodge-pudge constitution error compounded by the next stupid political party, UDP for political convenience since Mac hated omov….

  12. Anonymous says:

    Another storm in a teacup for people to get all worked up about. zzzzzzzzz

  13. Anonymous says:

    Miller – do something useful for Caymanians. Please stop wasting our time by jumping on every single bandwagon

    • Anonymous says:

      If only bandwagon jumping and populist soundbite generating were Olympic sports.  Ezzard would be a shoe in for Gold.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is legal nonsense on so many levels.  There is no hope of raising a human rights issue given the broad discretion afforded to nations in respect of such rights.  But gone on Ezzard and when you are at in a lot of other people who really ARE being denied their basic rights can join in.  That would be delicious irony.

  15. Anonymous says:

    UDP and AG always looking for short cuts instead of doing the right thing for cayman

  16. Anonymous says:

    Bulgin is a joke as AG. Isn’t this the same legal advisor who told the UDP that the status lottery grants 2003 were legal and irrevocable considering he was one of the lucky 3000 who benefitted? The failure to recognize a simple conflict of interests says everything

  17. Anonymous says:

    Can someone please post a link to exactly how our current voting system works, how can one have 1 vote and another 6. Thx

    • Anonymous says:

      It is quite easy:

      1: Almost half the residents are excluded from voting, even ones that have lived here for many years.

      2: Those allowed to vote are only allowed to vote for candidates who have passed through a raft of byzantine hoops of eligibility.

      3: In the best traditions of rotten boroughs, the election is centred around the over-precious district system, which is ridiculous in a place as small as Cayman.

      4: The big districts return lots of candidates and everyone gets to vote for everyone lots of times.  It is carnage but West Bay votes for whoever Mac wants them to.

      5: The Sister Islands are over-represented but no politician dare says "boo" to the Sister Islands, because they are over-represented.

      6: North Side and East End elections are basically won by a tiny amounts of votes when you reckon how much we pay these jokers.

      7: At the end we are stuck with far far too many MLAs who are paid far far too much.

      8: The MLAs all gather inthe LA.  We look at who was elected and think "really, that bad? how did that happen". 

      9: Over the next 4 years the MLAs take every penny they can, sleep in the Chamber, fight with each other, on occasion literally, a couple get arrested, a few of those get convicted and eventually a new election campaign begins when a couple of locally loonies declare their independent candidacies.

      Hope that helped.

      • Anonymous says:

        Mere residency is not usually the basis on which the right to vote is conferred in any country. In a country/territory where 1/2 of the adult population are here on work permit that would be complete nonsense.  

  18. Anonymous says:

    We should amend other parts of the Constitution – not just one part!!!!  That is what upsets me!  Politicians want to amed their parts, but when it come to more participartory democracy for the people, nothing is done!!!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Dear Attorney General,

     

    You dont change the law to try to escape liability due to inequality by making the inequality "legal". Instead, you change the law to increase equality, thereby reducing liability to Govt.

     

    How can a person currently with six votes in GT bring a lawsuit after OMOV is confirmed, saying that they have been discriminated against?

     

    While the Attorney General is advising of adopting the position of inequality (i.e. giving one voter a greater number of votes than other voters), why didnt he "canvass" HMG's thoughts on switching to OMOV before the next general elections?

  20. Anonymous says:

    I start to read and then I see Ezzard's name and I fall asleep.

  21. There's A Snail In My Ginger Beer says:

    As the Constitution is a Statutory Instrument surely s.6 of the Interpretation Act 1978 means the singular includes the plural, so there is no need for this.

    • Anonymass says:

      Thats what the DG is saying but, as you can see from the previous comments, there is also validity to his point that clarifying that might be a good idea. – Just a pity he didn't say it all months ago.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you read the memo from the AG that is the point that he makes (except by reference to the Cayman Interpretation Law). However, he also makes the point that that will not stop the issue being litigated in the courts at significant expense to the govt. That is what he is seeking to avoid. Capiche?  

      • Anonymous says:

        Funny. This poster made the same point as the one at 15:01 who got no thumbs down.

    • Anonymous says:

      So to take your interpretation forward does the singular include the plural in "an elector may vote in an electoral district" so I could vote in west bay for mac and also vote in North Side for Ezzard

      • Concerned Citizen says:

        No, because the act does not permit idiotic interpretations.  one is allowed to vote in one's district.  There was clearly never a legislative intent to provide any wider right.

      • Anonymous says:

        No, because the context does not permit that interpretation.

  22. St Peter says:

    We do not need to change the constitution!

    And if we did it is a power play by an Attorney General who is not even Caymanian by birth, to assume how our constitution should be changed, on behalf of the people who voted for the constitution.

    It essentially gives each person an opportunity to elect one representative.

    So we just need to follow the law here – not change the law or constitution…

    • Anonymous says:

      That would seem logical. But the issue here is our legislators (ironically) don’t seem willing or able to follow the law. Seemingly, they’d rather break it or change it to suit their needs.

    • Slowpoke says:

      "who is not even Caymanian by birth"… what is next?  "who was not even conceived in Cayman"?

       

      I urge all Caymanians to stop having sex while on vacations overseas!

  23. Anonymous says:

    I'm definitely with Ezzard on this one.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Please do not amend the constitution in any way suggested by Bulgin. Who is pushing this? So what if the election is nullified. If someone wants to amend something, set up the law to provide for OMOV now.