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Electoral Commission shares findings in community meetings

Election Center 13 Jul, 2023 Follow News

Dr. Lisa Handley, Chairperson.

Hon Premier Wayne Panton.

Left to right, Dr. Steve McField, Dr. Lisa Handley and Adriannie Webb who made up the commission

After an extensive survey, taking into account population changes throughout the the different electoral districts in the Cayman Islands, the Electoral Boundaries Commission held a series of community meetings in church halls to gather feedback which is part and parcel of their mandage, after explaining their methods and recommendations.  Those meetings were in West Bay, George Town and Bodden Town, but they are planning to involve the Sister Islands in the discussions too, at a later date.

In accordance with sections 88 and 89 of the Cayman Islands Constitution Order of 2009, an Electoral Boundary Commission must be appointed within eight years of the submission of the last Commission’s report.

Former Governor, Martyn Roper set up the commission to consist of Chairman Lisa R. Handley, PhD as well as local attorneys Dr A. Steve McField and Adriannie Webb. the teams reviewed the 2021 Census data and the Labour Force Survey population estimates. The Commissioners also considered other relevant matters at the meetings and visited each of the Electoral Districts to determine whether any changes are needed to the current boundaries.

In an earlier release the Commission said that 15 seats are affected by the proposed boundary changes due to population growth experienced over the last eight years, with the biggest impact on George Town and bodden town.

The three-member team gave a presentation at the Theoline L. McCoy Primary School in Bodden Town on Thursday 6 July. The meeting was well attended, with Hon Premier Wayne Panton, Hon Dwayne Seymour, Hon. Isaac Rankine. The Venerable Dr. Frank McField was also in attendance.

The presentation began with Commission chairperson Dr Lisa Handley explaining some technical considerations for each of the districts, explaining that it was necessary to formulate boundaries that represented roughly equal numbers of “Potential voters” - that is, people with Caymanian status who could get onto the electoral register if they wanted to. That excludes a large section of Cayman’s population who either do not have status, or are her on work permits. The aim was to get each district in line with accepted international standards pertaining to equal numbers, within 10 to 15 percent of each other, so that when they vote for an MP the voting system will be fairer.

Some of the areas were problematic, with North Side and East End falling behind in terms of numbers, a scenario which led to a suggestion they may be combined in some way. But each representative of the commission was quick to point out that, broadly speaking, their remit was just about numbers, and not about other cultural, historical and community-focussed factors that might complicate the picture. It would not be for them to make the final decision, but for the elected government, she said. It emerged that, in view of the rapid population growth of Bodden Town there may be a recommendation for an additional seat there. Hon Dwayne Seymour expressed his concern over changing the present divisions between Bodden Town East, Bodden Town West, Savannah and Newlands, by adding another constituency division.

Dr Frank McField voiced concerns that the criteria for the proposed changes seemed to be based on numbers alone, rather than other matters pertaining to social cohesion between members of various communities. Dr. Handley said that they had looked at such matters, but broadly speaking these considerations were beyond their mandate.


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