Activists say all votes count

| 04/09/2012

IMG-20120903-00238 (246x300).jpgCNS): In a jurisdiction as small as the Cayman Islands, where only around 26,000 people are eligible to vote, every one of the ballots counts in an election, say members of a new collaborative group who have begun a voter drive this week. The 'Grasp Your Future Voter Registration Drive' includes former members of the 'One Man One Vote' committee and the Cayman United Facebook group. The goal is to get as many of the more than 10,000 unregistered voters onto the electoral role as possible before the cut off point for the 2013 general election on 2 January 2013 and to change the profile of the local electorate.

Currently the average age of a voter in the Cayman Islands is 48 and a significant portion of those who qualify as voters but who have so far failed to register are under the age of thirty. Casey Goff, a member of Cayman United, said the goal is to push the voter list up, create an electorate that is more reflective of the Caymanian population and to force the politicians to be more accountable to more people.

“Cayman is a very different place today to what it was even twenty years ago and there is a new generation of voters out there that must play their part,” said Goff. “We live in a different world from that which the majority of people currently on the register grew up in and we need to see the under thirties playing a far greater part in the democratic process.”

At present there are just over 15,000 people on the register from approximately 26,000 people that could qualify, which means that the politicians only have to be accountable to 60% of the eligible voting population.

Announcing the voter drive, which will see the activists go out to the people to help them with the paperwork and take their completed forms and copies of their ID to the Elections office, Goff said Cayman was in a unique position with so few voters, meaning that every vote cast on an Election Day counts. Unlike larger countries, where it can seem almost impossible to influence an outcome, in Cayman seats can be won or lost over a handful of votes.

“Democracy can't function without the support of the people and the numbers in Cayman mean people really can influence the outcome,” the Cayman United member added, as he pointed to the significance of the missing 10,000 voters who could, if they chose to register, change the entire dynamic of the political landscape.

Former TV news reporter and member of the OMOV campaign, Kenny Bryan, said that the larger the electorate the more accountable politicians will become. “With an increased electorate, there is a greater need for politicians to come with substance and truth,” Bryan said “After all, it is harder to fool a greater number of people,” he added.

Goff noted that with more voters it would also be more difficult for the needs of a single group to influence the campaign and would force politicians to consider the diverse needs of the wider voting population instead of trying to please a core group of supporters to secure a seat in parliament.

The men agreed that registering to vote did not mean that people could not exercise their right to refuse to vote. But if the people are not registered, politicians don’t need to consider the names that are not on the list. Until the voter makes there decision to vote or not or who to vote for, the politicians are aware that they have the potential to vote for or against them and act accordingly.

Bryan said he believed that those people who are not yet registered fall into three groups. The first are young or new electors that have turned 18 since the last election and have not yet signed up. The second are those that have acquired Caymanian status but have never naturalized and do not realize that they are now entitled to vote. And finally, there are those people who have never been interested in engaging in the political process.

“That may be the hardest group to convince,” Bryan said. However, he explained that the group intends to take out all of the hassle of getting registered, so instead of the voter going to the Elections Office, the Grasp Your Future volunteers will go to them.

Bryan has met with elections officials and explained how the drive will work.  “We are taking a pro-active approach to this and we will go to the voters and help them do everything,” he said.

Armed with a bundle of forms, Bryan said he and other volunteers are ready and waiting at the end of the group’s hotline waiting to hear from anyone who wants to register. “We are coming to you the voter,” he added, notind that the goal was to make the process as easy and convenient as possible for the missing 10,000.

Bryan said the group anticipates making the greatest impact among younger voters and he said he would be going to UCCI to spread the word and is planning a major 'Rock the Vote' party in the next few weeks to raise awareness among the youngest of the country’s potential electorate.

He noted that the voters' list is not the only place used to call people up for jury duty as all Cayman status holders can be called. He said this is often seen as a barrier to joining the voters' register but this is not the only way in which Caymanians can find themselves serving and should not prevent people from exercising their critical right to vote.

Although Bryan hopes to run in the May 2013 election, he said the drive has nothing to do with party politics. “I just want people to register. How they choose to vote will be a matter for campaigning down the line but now it about promoting voting.”

Goff said that Cayman United had not yet endorsed any candidates and the goal for everyone involved in the drive was to change the shape of the electorate and encourage the younger generations to step up and use their democratic right to elect their country’s government. “This registration drive is not just about one party or one politician; it’s about voting and understanding why they should vote,” he added.

Cayman United plans to profile every candidate on its new website before the election to help voters make up their mind about how they should vote and create a more informed as well as larger electorate.

Eden Hurlstone, another member of the Cayman United group, spoke about the need to keep politicians honest and accountable after the vote as well as before.

“This is a crucial time in our history and we want to make votes count in a real way for positive change for the future,” he said. “Your vote does count and we want to see everyone demanding accountability from their government, and that starts with the election process,” he added.

The hotline numbers for those wishing to register are Lime 928 vote (8683) or Digicel 328 vote (8683). Details are also on the new website for Caymanunited.ky.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Politics

Comments (5)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. noname says:

    Simple task. Is the Election supervisor liasing with the Director of Vital Statistics where Birth and Death Records are kept?

    Seems like laziness to me. There's no reason why a deceased person's name should beon the register for years! s

    • Anonymous says:

      07: 47

      I have to agree with you.

      It is pure laziness and dumb. Not only should the Director of statistics liase with the Election supervisors. So should the Immigration department and the General registry.

      The immigration has a file on their Data base,… or I would hope so, being we are now in the 21 centry, of every Caymanian Status holder that are eligible to rigister, to vote in the Cayman Islands.

      The General rigistry has on their data base, every born Caymanian which reach the age to  rigister, to vote in the Cayamn Islands. 

      Now let me see, the Immigrqation department forward their file of Caymanian status receipeants  to the Election officers. The General Registry forward their file of Caymanian born over to the Election officers. Now the election office has the data of all eligible Caymanian voters.

      So tell me, is this too easy to do or what? technology, technology, technology!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Maybe we should try to get some of those dead people elected. They couldn't possibly do any worse than what we have now, and travel cost should come way down.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if the register is updated because I looked on it the other day, in the post office, and saw someone's name, who has been dead for many years – and his wife hasn't lived here for years either.  Presumably this means there will be lots of other names of persons who are deceased.  Don't the names of the deceased ever get removed?

  4. Anonymous says:

    How about a full clean up of the electorate list they have too?  Only God knows how many dead voters and people who have left the island how many donkey years ago now who wouldn't qualify to vote but are still a part of that list…. something needs to be done about that too.