Election gets top marks

| 24/05/2013

election observer.jpg(CNS): The mission of international observers confirmed that the Cayman Islands elections were free, fair, genuine and transparent in their short interim report, which they delivered to the local press on Friday, validating the result. The mission went as far as giving the elections a 9/10 grade and said that while they were here to observe and make recommendations, there were lessons to carry from the Cayman Islands for other jurisdictions, especially the wide participation of women in the election process. However, the observers did raise concerns about the inequality of the multi-member system, which they saiddid not meet international standards and recommended that Cayman move to one man, one vote (OMOV).

Nevertheless, they had lots of positive things to say and Mario Galea, the head of the mission, congratulated the Cayman people for their significant turnout and the Elections Office for the process.

“In our view the 2013 General Elections in the Cayman Islands met the international standards for democratic, genuine and transparent elections and the results truly reflect the will of the people,” Galea told the press Friday, as he read from the interim report. “We commend the people of the Cayman Islands for the way these elections were conducted. The peaceful election process allowed different opinions to be expressed freely. The high voters turnout is also a very positive sign and it shows commitment of the Caymanian people to the principles of democracy.”

The mission revealed that the police had confirmed that 24 allegations of corruption or vote buying were reported to them but no one was willing to make a formal complaint and no evidence has yet been uncovered, though the police are attempting to investigate.

Galea noted that reports were also made to the mission of vote buying but they did not see any evidence either. When they spoke to candidates and others involved in the process, they all denied any part but pointed to the other side as being the culprits. In addition, the presence of both the observers and the awareness campaign run by the local authorities appears to have kept any irregularities, if there were any at all, to a minimum.

Among their brief interim findings the observers also pointed to a lack of clarity regarding the qualifications for election and said some requirements were too restrictive, which interfered with the rights of people to be elected, including the dual nationality issue, given Cayman’s circumstances.

The observers had plenty of praise for the Elections Office and their voter registration drive before the election and noted that the increase in registered voters was very impressive. They said the campaign was conducted peacefully and candidates were able to campaign freely.

The media played an important role in the election campaign and most stakeholders said the media provided balanced reporting, though the UDP accused some private media outlets of being openly biased against the party. The mission did not conduct any systematic qualitative and quantitative media monitoring and said they could not confirm or refute the accusations. Allegations were made that one media house had refused to sell the UDP ad space when it called up at the end of the campaign. CNS confirmed that they received no request from the UDP for ad space and it is not known which media house this referred to.

When it came to Election Day, the mission covered all 46 polling stations, and operations were very good or good in all of them, the observers felt and added that the count was transparent.

One other area of concern raised was the limit for candidates’ election expenses.

“Several candidates expressed the views that the limits of CI $30,000 and CI $35,000 for different categories of candidates are unrealistically low given the duration of campaign period and existing price level in the Cayman Islands and alleged that many candidates across the political spectrum will exceed these limits,” the observers noted, adding that although candidates are obliged to submit to the supervisor of elections true election expenses returns, there is no process to verify their accuracy.

The observers spoke to many people in the community and stakeholders, from voters to candidates’ agents and officials, as well as the media and expressed their gratitude for the forthright and open way their questions were answered. Galea said the mission had been warmly welcomed and they would be offering a full and complete report with their various recommendations for the future in less than two months but in the meantime the people of Cayman could be satisfied their elections were free and fair, validating the result.

The mission leader added that the local observer team was a positive move but thought it would be better if the group had been appointed by civil society or NGOs rather than the Elections Office. However, he said the international team was in no way concerned about the integrity of the local team and the great job they did. Meanwhile, those local observers met on Friday to plan their local report for the elections supervisor.

“We have once again witnessed democracy at work, when a free and fair election was held in these Cayman Islands,” the local team’s leader Norman Bodden said. “I was impressed by the high level of organization at the six polling divisions we were observers at, as well as the conduct of the voters themselves,” he said, adding that the Election Day was voter-friendly. With no major incidents anywhere to comment on but with some recommendations for fine tuning that could be done, the team of local observers plan to pass on their report within the next two weeks.

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  1. SKEPTICAL says:

    As a judgement on the voting process – very predictable. SO, what was bush’s objection to having a team of Observers – typical macro- management issues of a ” control freak” who does not want anyone to have discretionary oversight of any operation.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I found one major flaw in the process: we were not asked for ID's in the voting booth.  

    • Anonymous says:

      On the Brac, I was asked to show I.D.;  they seemed to scrutinise it even though the persons know who I am.   I was asked to state my full name, address and occupation.   It was read back out loud, and my name was lined through in the  printout.   My I.D. was given back, and the instructions for completing the voting form were given to me verbally.   I voted, folded the tab and gave it back to the person.   They tore off the perforated part, and gave me the form back and directed me to put it in the ballot box.   I was then told to exit.   Almost militaristic, and I had to resist the urge to click my heels.   Extremely well regulated and professionally done.   I'm very appreciative of the election officials, as well as the police security and observers.  

      • Anonymous says:

        There are many polling stations in Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman and I know for a fact that it wasn't done in at least one polling station in Cayman Brac and one polling station in Grand Cayman.

        • Anonymous says:

          Which station(s)? Name them. (And a time would be useful.) Otherwise its like saying the polling station on the moon.

      • Caymaniam says:

        This was my experience exactly in Bodden Town, and I am sure it was what they were trained to do. If the person claiming to "know for a fact" that this was not done elsewhere would kindly reveal the location, I would be greatly obliged. 

        The only glitch that I encountered was that the person in front of me came back out of the polling booth because the light was dim and they could not see the form without glasses. It caused some amusement, but the officials did not have a remedy at hand. I loaned my glasses. This should be addressed in future elections.

  3. Whodatis says:

    Umm … hello?

    Did anyone expect anything but?

    This is Cayman after all.

    Your move, UK.

    (Lastly, I look forward to reading of this stellar report in the British and international media, like when we are painted as evil tax havens and our politicians are arrested. Not holding my breath though.)


    • Caymaniam says:

      Last election we had two candidates who did not declare interests and should have been disqualified – nothing was done.

      Last election we had overt handing out of party voting instructions at the polling stations – nothing was done.

      This election two contestants including the former Premier are awaiting trial on corruption charges. 

      Had the report been negative Whodatis would take it as confirmation of his UK/Colonial/International Media conspiracy theory. Damned if you do……


      • Whodatis says:

        Please click here for my response.

        (Really can't be assed today.)

        • Whodatis says:

          Oh dear,

          The silence is deafening.

          • noname says:

            Frankly. I coudn't be bothered  (versus your crude expresssion) to check out your supposed response before today. I am not sure why you posted that piece as it has very little to do with the subject at hand. I think that most of us without a huge chip on our shoulder understand that influence peddling occurs everywhere, and that british politicians have had their fair share of scandals (particularly after so many years without a change of government). That does not constitute an organised conspiracy, as you so often seem to conclude.Life is not that simple.

            I have given you a thumbs-up on occassion, but find your relentless quest against allthings British to be less than objective, lacking in balance and in my opinion, out of step with the general feeling among the Caymanian population. 

            Walk good. ( I originally wrote "take care" but didn't want you to read any threat into my salutation). 


  4. Anonymous says:

    So a complete and utter waste of everyone's time to tell us what we already knew. Consultatns one and all. The only good thing to say is that the UK didn't charge us for them.

  5. Cayman Mama says:

    The Elections Office did not do as well with postal ballots. They sent them out via Registered Mail, which all business persons know is a notoriously slow service. I know more than one person who was disenfranchised in this way by not receiving their ballots in time to vote.

    • Anonymous says:

      But its traceable. Without that facility you culdn't prove that they didn't get their mail. In fact, you couldn't be assured that someone else didn't collect their ballotts and vote for them.

      • Anonymous says:

        THey should have been mailed earlier.

        • Anonymous says:

          And how many days after nomination day were they mailed? I was under the impresson that only a couple fo days elapsed between nomination day and the ballotts being sent. Time to pyut them together, print them, put them in envelopes. But, if you have dates, throow them out. Otherwise you fall in to the same category as teh peopel complaining they hadn't got their ballotts when they were at the post office awaiting collection.

          • Anonymous says:

            the were sent 22 days before the election day.

            • Anonymous says:

              Nomination Day was Wednesday 27 March.

              Election Day was Wednesday 22nd May.

              If postal ballots were sent 22 days before election day that is over a month (April) after nomination day.

              I concede that that is too long a gap to excuse leaving only  22 days for the mail to go out, a choice be made, and the mail to return.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Galea the vote buying did not occur on election day. YOu should have visited the WB public beach a few days before that day to sample the activity. There were a few other spots as well, plus the handing out of cash. Shame that no one is willing to give the their evidence of corruption.

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you reported what you know factually to the police?

      • Anonymous says:

        I tried that once. They told the bad guys the info came from me and electedto give them a "warning". I lost years of my life and effectively had to go into hiding because of that and can NEVER forgive them. In any event, they seem to do nothing, even when the offence is on the front page in the papers. How's that First Cayman Bank Investigation doing? 

        • Anonymous says:

          Even if you paid a big price you did the right thing and I am proud of you for taking a stand. Those who outed you will pay their price. That thing called Karma ya kno?

          • Anonymous says:

            But well will the authorities here learn that they cannot protect witness anonimity because of our size? When will they realize that we cannot help them because they are so weak in dealing with offenders that those witnesses who do come forward are those who ultimately suffer? When will they actually act decisively to stamp out criminality with decisiveness rather than making compliance with laws and standards of behaviour a voluntary act?

  7. O.N. High says:

    I can predict with a reasonable degree of certainty that the conversion to single member constituencies will take about 4.5 years to complete.


  8. Michel says:

    Praises also need to the international observers. They were polite yet vigilant. I had the opportunity to meet the Senator from Jersey Minister of Finance and Development and enjoyed talking to him and found him to be humble and very professional amongts others as well kudos to all of you and thank you. God Bless, Michel Lemay.

  9. Anonymous says:

    So that's what a profesionally-prepared political report looks like.    Well done, all, and we thank everyone who participated in elections procedure, as well as elections oversight, in making this a vetted process of which we can be proud.