Election officials will challenge nomination eligibility

| 21/03/2013

20100610_NominateToday.jpg(CNS): Returning officers will be checking that all candidates nominated next Wednesday are qualified to run for office as the election supervisors are keen to ensure that there will be no question marks over any of the candidates that make it to the ballot paper for the 22 May poll. With questions about two and possibly several more candidates’ eligibility relating to both nationality and residency periods, officials will be checking any candidate that appears not to qualify and will either verify their qualification or prevent their nomination.  Meanwhile, the elections supervisor has stated he has no objections to observers coming to watch democracy at work in Cayman.

Orrett Connor, the deputy supervisor of elections, said that candidates were talking a lot about transparency and integrity in politics, but that included Nomination Day, and he urged them to be honest about their eligibility.

“We are hearing an awful lot of candidates talking about honest, integrity, openness and transparency in government and the place to start is on Nomination Day,” Connor stated. “Candidates and their nominators need to make sure they are properly qualified well before the elections.”

He pointed to the disruption, expense and upheaval that challenges have caused in several countries in the region as a result of candidates who were unqualified running for office. In some cases, even when they have not been returned, as was the case in Turks and Caicos, a by-election was called when the unqualified candidate’s votes were found by the courts to have impacted the result because of the small margin by which a candidate had won.

Connor said Cayman election officials were very keen to avoid the need for any candidates to be challenged after the fact by making sure every name on every ballot sheet was a qualified candidate. With plans for the office and the governor to sign off on the ballot papers on the evening of Nomination Day, the returning officers would be raising issues of eligibility with any candidate where there were questions.

The election deputy admitted that in some cases it would not necessarily be possible for the officials to prove that a person held a second passport, so he was hoping that any would-be MLA or even incumbents who may have a second passport will be honest and not put themselves forward. He pointed out that the onus is on the candidates and nominators to be open and any group endorsing candidates should be making sure that they check the eligibility of those they are supporting.

Sharon Roulstone and Kent McTaggart, who are both running on the C4C ticket, have had questions raised about their eligibility. However, Roulstone, who is running for a seat in George Town, has fully renounced her American citizenship and given up the passport, settling any questions there were about her qualification.

Residency questions surrounding McTaggart, who is contesting the Bodden Town election, have not been answered, according to the elections office. Officials say his nomination remains in question. The C4C candidate, however, has said that, although he falls short of the period of residency requirement before someone can run for office, he is still qualified by way of one of the exemptions.

There are also as yet unnamed candidates and incumbents who are believed to hold dual nationality but who have never acknowledged the fact and as it is not always easy to investigate because of privacy laws.  However, Nomination Day is a public affair and candidates will be filling in their nominations in specific locations (as posted below) in each constituency, allowing anyone who believes a candidate is unqualified to voice their objections to officials. 

The elections supervisor also said that if election observers are coming to Cayman, they need to come sooner rather than later, as Nomination Day is all part of the process.

Contrary to comments made by the premier, Kearney Gomez said it was not up to the elections office to decide whether they came or not as the invitation had to be extended by the political arm of government. Gomez said that the elections office would be the agency that actually appoints the official observers as they would need all points’ access to the stations and the count.

Nominations Day takes place on Wednesday 27 March between 8am and 3pm at the following locations:

George Town: The Smith Road Centre, 150 Smith Road
Bodden Town: The James M. Bodden Civic Centre, 445C Bodden Town Road
West Bay: The John Gray United Church Hall, 26 West Church Street
Cayman Brac and Little Cayman: The District Administration BuildingConference Room, 19 Kirkconnell Street
East End: The William Allen McLaughlin Civic Centre, 80 John McLean Drive
North Side: The Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre, 923 North Side Road

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I love the choices between candidates convicted of drug dealing, convicted of assaulting police officers, drunk drivers, sefl-admitted liars and those who have been arrested for corruption offences. 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Connor make sure that JP gave up his US passport/papers.


  3. Anonymous says:

    How can "incumbents" have dual citizenship, when Sharon R. gave up her US citizenship to qualify to run?


    Who are these incumbents that the Elections Office "believes" have dual citizenship?


    What else will the Elections Office do, besides taking their word for it, to satisfy themselves that a candidate is qualified to run for election? Will Mr. Gomez and Mr. Connor simply rely on the potential candidate saying: "Trust me bobo, I qualify." Then Gomez and Connor say: "Sounds good to me, good luck to you."


    What kind of idiots do we have supervising our elections office anyway?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Voter suppression is already showing up as the election registrars unjustly eliminate voters.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Privacy laws? WTF? as if they override the constitution? Good God! Could someone in authority please grow a pair and act like they have some authority? You should start by requiring candidates to even prove they are really Caymanian. That could be kind of funny…How do you know they have status? Because they told you they did?

  6. Anonymous says:

    How hard could it be to check if someone has two passports?  It's simple.  Check with immigration.  

    • Diogenes says:

      And how would Cayman Immigration know if the person concerned didn't tell them?  You think they have a crystal ball, or that foreign governments have an obligation to notify Cayman immigration of persons applying for another passport?

  7. Anonymous says:

    They should also appoint a whole department to investigate "interests and conflicts of interest" that didn't happen last election and people that were elected should not have been eligible.

  8. Anonymous says:

    All candidates please note, recent events show that RCIPS have teeth. OK, no conviction yet, but great inroad into corrutpion which all politicos need to take note of.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Lets hope our candidates remember to FULLY declare all their interests this time around.

  10. Slowpoke says:

    Interesting GIF you chose for this article.  Unfortunately, it does not seem to be a requirement, as the law is designed to exclude so many.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Okay Mr. Connor, what about nominees who are convicted and those with pending investigations. What’s your position on that?

    • Anon says:

      We don’t need election exclusions for these politicians who are being investigated, charged or convicted. Let them all run! The issue is the people that vote them in. How can anyone possibly vote for people under police investigation?

      I cannot believe that we need rules to prevent criminals or alleged criminals from running for office. But I guess the reason we need them is because of voter incompetence. The reason we would consider these rules is because we’re afraid the criminals may actually get elected. Wow.

      Should we perhaps disqualify certain people from voting instead? Should we test each voter when registering to ensure that they are competent enough to vote?

      I am left speechless.

    • Anonymous says:

      His position on that does not matter. What matters is what the constitution says.