Boundary review recommends new district

| 29/06/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News(CNS): The growing population of George Town would give voters a powerful political advantage if the country maintains its current six districts, the 2010 electoral boundary commission has found. It has recommended the creation of a seventh electoral district for Grand Cayman on the edge of the capital called Prospect-Spotts, which could take up the new members as set out in Cayman’s new Constitution. The commission, which was tasked with examining how the size of the country’s parliament could be increased by three seats, has looked at three possible scenarios based on its research and the islands’ changing demographics.

Following more than two months of consultation and review, the three member commission fell short of making a specific recommendation on single member constituencies, although it acknowledged the public seemed to favour the idea of one member one vote. 
If government was to retain the six electoral districts, the commission said, two seats would have to go to George Town and the third new seat to Bodden Town. The new boundaries have to be established before the country’s next general election, which will take place in 2013 when, as stipulated in the Cayman Islands Constitution 2009, the electorate will return 18 members instead of the current 15.
Based on population, the size of constituencies and changing demographics, this would mean George Town would return six members, West Bay remain at four, Bodden Town would increase to four, while Cayman Brac and Little Cayman would keep their two representatives and one member would be returned from both North Side and East End.
However, the commission explained that by retaining the six districts, a George Town voter would have more power to influence the government of the day than any other voter in the country.  In short, the capital’s voters would be able to cast their ballot six times in one election compared to just one vote for East Enders. It would also mean that voters in George Town would be returning a third of the members to the country’s parliament.
“If an electoral district has one third of the elected members of the Legislative Assembly such preponderance of influence in the Assembly might create an imbalance in development in other districts,” the commission’s report said. The commissioners added that all the evidence pointed to the Prospect and Savannah area as the fastest growing and the most logical place to create a new electoral district which would create a better balance of power.
The new district recommended by the commission would include voters from the capital and from Grand Cayman’s fastest growing district of Bodden Town. By merging voters from east of George Town and West of Bodden Town, the new district would represent a sensible and fair distribution of voters that could represent all three of the new seats, redressing voting power.
The commission also pointed out that government could choose the more controversial option of one member, one vote constituencies, which would mean dividing all three islands into 18 new electoral districts. George Town and West Bay would thenbe divided into four separate constituencies, the new Prospect-Spotts district and Bodden Town would both be broken into three, while North Side and East End would remain as individual single-member constituencies.
Meanwhile, the Sister Islands would be separated into two districts incorporating Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman and Cayman Brac East, a move to which voters in the Sister Islands have said they are fundamentally opposed. Moreover, the commission pointed out that with two constituencies on the Brac and Little Cayman, the voting numbers per constituency would be far smaller in the Sister Islands than any on Grand Cayman.
The Boundary report was laid on the table of the Legislative Assembly by Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks last week and has now become a public document. Ebanks encouraged everyone to read the report and familiarise themselves with the research and recommendations so the public could continue to play its part in the eventual outcome of its future electoral districts and voting system.
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  1. A Caymanian says:

     Island wide voting, one voter 18 votes, no voting districts!  The only way to get control of the asylum back from the inmates…

  2. Tom McCallum says:

    Single member constituencies are, to me at least, clearly the best way forwards on so many levels.

    It does appear though from the media reporting of the boundary commission report, that although people seem to want single member constituences, the "spin" put on the report seems to show a huge amount of "status quo" inertia.

    In a recent column in another local publication, I encourage Cayman to "Think Different", and I quote from that : "Now, look now at our situation and what do we see? Unfortunately what is all too clear is a country where too many of us are focused on “conventional wisdom”"

    Let’s be prepared to do what is right, even if it means radical change, as simply "tweaking" what we currently do is the safe option, but, in these changing times, increasingly not the right one.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Whats wrong with 1 man, 18 votes as the solution.  Give everyone an "extra vote" for their single choice in their own district to ensurse local representation – but make everyone accountable to all of Cayman. Then we would have more national leaders elected, and fewer neighbourhood heavies.  

    • Anonymous says:

      CORRECT – 1 Man 18 votes is true democracy.

      1 man 18 votes places control and true democracy in the hands of the voting public. Ask ourselves why are our politicans afraid of true democracy. The answer is that they do not want to loose control and place it in the hands of the people.

      EMBRACE DEMOCRACY – do not be afraid of it by allowing it to be in the hands of our elected officals.

      Every politican should be accountable to all of Cayman and to every voter and Caymanian resident. We can no longer think with a village mentality with districts, it’s time to start thinking on a national basis as a country.

      In addition to 1 man 18 votes, voters should also be given the right to choose their Premier or the leader to represent them on the international stage to prevent the embarrasment we now have.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here’s what’s wrong with it. People are confused now when they have 3 or 4 votes (remember the UDP was ‘reminding’ them who to vote for with their cards). You are asking voters to study 50+ candidates and decide which 18 are the best. They will probably not even know 50 let alone study them to see which of them are good candidates (I am sure I wouldn’t have the time). In that case people are more likely to vote merely along party lines to ease their confusion.  

      Also this will unfairly benefit candidates from larger districts at the expense of those from smaller districts which then go effectively unrepresented. In the past we have seen really poor candidates in West Bay and George Town in particular gain hundreds of votes which would squeeze out a good candidate in East End or North Side.     

      One man, one vote is democracy and anything else is unacceptable. Each citizen then focusses on which ONE person is the best man/woman for the job. We would not have someone voting for X because he is running with Y – the candidate that you really want to vote for. This how bad candidates get in.

      One man, 18 votes is just plain ridiculous. Are you smoking something?       

  4. Just Asking says:

    I can’t be bothered to read the Constitution myself but can anyone clarify if it requires that these three seats be filled in the next election or if it allows for them to be?


  5. Tim Ridley says:

    It is very disappointing that neither political party seems willing to take the lead and promote single member constituencies, i.e. one vote per person. This is the fundamental basis of a functioning democracy elsewhere in the world. It would indeed be a travesty of democracy if the additional members (why we actually need them is a whole other subject!) resulted in say George Town voters having 6 votes each.

    Perhaps, we shall now see some movement towards the correct structure, given that West Bay will not get any additional members if the current structure remains in place. 


    • Ray says:

      From 2005 the PPM have advocated/promoted single member constituencies. This was continued during the public consultation and they put this feature in the original constitution discussion document. A feature that was only amended to the present wording to appease the UDP and gain their overall "agreement". The use of single member constituencies was still advocated/promoted in the last election by the PPM as the ultimate goal for representation.

      To my knowledge, this stance remains the same.

  6. Twyla Vargas says:

    The commission also pointed out that government could choose the more controversial option of one member, one vote constituencies, which would mean dividing all three islands into 18 new electoral districts. George Town and West Bay would then be divided into four separate constituencies, the new Prospect-Spotts district and Bodden Town would both be broken into three, while North Side and East End would remain as individual single-member constituencies

    This sounds good to me.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t McKeeva say that the people didn’t want one man one vote? I guess his polls are different to the offical one.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I would propose that the districts should be consolidated for no better reason than to limit the number of redundant and irrelevant MLAs we pay for in the LA.  They are redundant and irrelevant because apart from the multitude of marginal constituents that regularly request personal favours, the average MLA does not hear any constructive feedback from the public they are paid to represent. 

  9. Confused says:

    I thought we had 5 districts in Grand Cayman??? Someone please enlighten me as to our sixth district…..West Bay, George Town, Bodden Town, Northside and East End….yup! sounds like 5 to me.

    CNS: The proposal is for a seventh district in the Cayman Islands and it is proposed that it is on Grand Cayman.

    • Cayman Girl says:

      According to Wikpedia, Grand Cayman Has 5 districts as you rightly stated.  However, the 6 th ‘district’ is Cayman Brac and Little Cayman – which I assume is for the purposes of elections.  So, the propored 7th district is going to be on Grand Cayman?!?!

      All sounds like a load of shite to me.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Anything but single member districts with approximately equal numbers of voters is just screwing with people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Careful how you express yourself. The Premier is likely to take the first five words of your sentence and say that is what he is hearing from the majority of the people.

  11. Anonymous says:

    "The commission also pointed out that government could choose the more controversial option of one member, one vote constituencies which would mean dividing all three islands into 18 new electoral districts".

    For the life of me I cannot figure why this should be controversial with the voting public. I note that the articledid record the fact that the majority of persons who gave representations to the Commission were in favour of one man, one vote. This is what democracy is all about. Why should a voter in George Town have four representatives (or four votes) while a voter in East End have one?  I understand why it would be controversial with the existing political parties as the current system unfairly helps to secure their majority. I do not understand the Commission’s point about single member constituencies not favouring minority parties as the present system obviously does not. People, if we are to fundamentally change our electoral politics (and it clearly needs changing) this is our chance. Please lobby your MLAs for single member constituencies.