Government has announced the date for the referendum to determine whether the cruise berthing and upgrade to the port facility should go ahead, the 19th December, 2019. This date is earlier than the anticipated January date, which means the latest group of people who have registered to vote will not be able to participate in the referendum.
In gazetting the Referendum Bill, Government also outlined the question which will be put forth to the voting public: “Should the Cayman Islands continue to move forward with building the cruise berthing and enhanced cargo port facility?” The response to the question will be a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
In a statement, Government advised that the referendum day will be a public holiday, but that licensed bars and similar establishments will be permitted to remain open to minimise disruption during the holiday season.
In wording this very important question, Government said it had no precedent to follow and there was no guidance given in the Constitution, but that they followed common sense and natural justice principles to ensure that the question was clear and simple, easy to understand and written in plain language, to the point, unambiguous and neutral, which meant the wording should not create any encouragement for voters to consider one response more favourably than another and should not mislead voters.
In order to ensure that the question was democratically posed, Government was guided by the Council of Europe’s Commission for Democracy Through Law (the Venice Commission) in its Code of Good Practice on Referendums. The Attorney General was also consulted in the development of the question and external legal advice was also sought.
Government also wanted to ensure that the referendum question reflected the intention of the petitioners, specifically Cruise Port Referendum Cayman (CPR). However, Government said that while CPR focused solely on cruise berthing, it wanted to include the question as to whether the voting public also wanted an enhanced cargo port as well, which, they said. had always been an intrinsic part of the Government’s plans. As the two projects went hand in hand, they were both addressed in the referendum question.
The choice of date was based upon the legal process required in order to conduct a referendum, the statement said, with sufficient time needed to allow the Elections Office to plan for and carry out their duties – including providing for postal and mobile voting.
The statement concluded by saying that Government looked forward to settling this issue and determining whether the country supported continuing to move forward with building the cruise berthing and enhanced cargo port facility.
2019 Referendum 6 Week Programme