(Predicted by former Supervisor of Elections for the 2013 election!)
With enough preparation and information citizens can play an important role in shaping the Cayman Islands in which they want to live.
During the period for maiden speeches in the first session of Parliament MP for Prospect bemoaned turnout when she advocated for greater public education on the election process to get voters out to vote.
Compared to the US, turnout in the Cayman Islands is however still extra-ordinary. In the 2014 Presidential election turnout was 36.4% toppling the incumbent President Barack O’bama.
Key local trends to watch:
Stand-out high turnouts occurred in North Side (86%) and East end (87%) where independents replaced respective incumbents who did not form part of the government established in 2017.
Voter turnout was better in the constituencies of Cayman Brac East (79%), as well as West Bay Central (79%) and Newlands (80%) where races had been notably very close in 2017 and where the respective backbencher and opposition-member incumbents lost out.
At the other end of the spectrum there was a record low turnout in George Town East (69%), George Town West (69%) and Cayman Brac West & Little Cayman (63%) where incumbents are no longer on the government side and are instead in the opposition with remaining PPM party/ alliance member.
Overall the number of voters declined despite there being even more registered voters.
Top reasons why voters don’t vote include ‘not feeling like candidates represent their views’ and ‘not believing that their ballot matters’. As seen in the US such abstinence can have real consequences, intended or unintended. Not voting does impact the government - it benefits the status quo i.e. no change of power.
Therefore in support of the sentiment expressed by MP for Prospect, voter education and facilitation really is key. Voters need to research the election and voting behaviour is also an important topic for discourse in the home.
But real and rapid change requires that all of Parliament vote in amongst other things: election law reform to 1) improve cooperation (with media, public sector, private sector, as well as with electoral candidates and their agents/supporters); and 2) to urgently provide a framework for national elections.
Only the latter will allow constituents to play an actual role in voting for those that have an influence over their lives whether it be health, environment, education or housing including the Premier.
As the nation appears ready to leap forward in improving voter engagement and parliamentary democracy, REAL representation writes that perhaps we can go further and request a formal role within the Westminster Parliament.
Decisions and circumstances in the UK seem to be having a greater and greater influence on our government’s decisions so why not facilitate inclusion of the Cayman Islands in its halls and committees to allow her and like-minded small island nations to have a voice?
The Privy Council in London would undoubtedly support this being a co-signer with the Government of the Cayman Islands of the 2009 Constitutional Order. Together maybe the two nations can ‘build back better’.
While the nation looks forward to a change in environment, one which positively drives voting behaviour it is worth considering the year 2009. 2009 was associated with the highest percentage turnout ever - 80.5%. That signified strong voter support for new governance rules heralded in by the new Constitutional Order (2009).
Arguably having an agreed national plan increases the odds of success and there is valuable merit in enhanced good governance.
In addition perhaps poor implementation of the plan increases the odds of failure. Perhaps this is where the government fell down and what has been at the heart of the decline in percentage voter turnouts over the last decade.
Significant hope is being placed in the new PACT government and their leadership style to reverse this trend.
As the PACT settles in, voters and residents will continue to pray and act accordingly to influence government, and unelected independents will use their power to back plans in the nation’s best interests and those that are not.
By working cooperatively and enhancing dialogue government in the community can definitely deliver change for a safer, stronger Caymanian society and environment.
In addition collective action will buoy voter interest today, tomorrow and in the future. Arguably this is the measure of any government’s success.
The elephant in the room still remains however: special interest groups with more dollars than sense which attempt to fetter the country’s best interests and national security.
Here’s wishing the PACT government and unelected independents the courage to give advice which is right by the people and make the tough decisions necessary to, as the young people in the islands say, “protect our future”.
Submitted by REAL Representation