Voter drive targets 18,000
(CNS): The Elections Office and the Grasp Your Future campaign are both hoping to see the Cayman Islands voter register boosted to over 18,000 as a result of the various efforts currently underway to ensure that everyone who is entitled to vote at the next election has a chance to do so. Deputy Supervisor of Elections Colford Scott said that the number of people out there that are eligible but have not registered is unknown and said the estimate of 10,000 circulated by local activists cannot be verified. However, he said there were several thousand people who could be voters in the May 2013 General Election but have not yet registered. Before the register closes to new electors for the general election on 2 January 2013, he said, the office expects the voters' list to have increased by about 3,000 more people.
In the latest update to the list, which was published on 1 October, there are 15,773 people registered, an increase of around 500 since the referendum on 18 July.
As the drive continues to try and attract as many people as possible, Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez pointed out the importance of registering to vote by 2 January, which is just 71 days away.
“There really is no good reason why you have not registered if you are qualified,” Gomez stated as he urged everyone eligible to do so to get on the voters list. “Take advantage of this opportunity to register, which will entitle you to vote in the May 2013 General Elections.”
The office is engaged in a full scale push and has mobile registration units out in the districts every weekend as well as an open door policy at the office.
Meanwhile, the Grasp you Future campaign is also actively engaged in a drive to attract as many of the 10,000 people they believe are out there as possible. Kenny Bryan, who is spearheading the grassroots push to boost the number pf electors, said he was disappointed that the Elections Office could not be more exact about the numbers.
“It is an important fact that I believe the office should be able to ascertain,” he added. “While I understand there are variables, the office should be able to tell us who is eligible. Even if these people may turn out not to be resident here in the last four years or have some other reason why they can’t in the first instance, we should have a figure that tells us how many people could vote, even if that has to be qualified.”
However, Bryan echoed the estimates of the Elections Office of an additional 3,000 people being on the voters list at this forthcoming election compared to the one used in the referendum this summer.
He said he was disappointed with the amount of young people he believes are out there that have not yet registered, a position he believes they may very well regret as the election date draws near and the country moves into campaign mode.
“Many people were disenfranchised in the referendum this summer because they missed the voter registration deadline for that vote after it was called so suddenly,” he said. “Lots of people then did not think hey were interested in politics but when the debate on that went public they found they were interested but were then unable to exercise their democratic right. Registering to vote doesn’t obligate you to vote but it gives you the choice.”
Nomination Day will be Wednesday 27 March 2013 and it will not be known until then who will be putting themselves forward as candidates. But by that time it will be too late for eligible voters to register in time for the national vote.
Bryan said that he and the Grasp Your Future campaigners were still manning the registration hot-lines and were able to assist anyone who wants to register. The group was continuing to encourage employers to host the team at their workplaces, he said, and they have conducted registration session in several offices in George Town and were scheduled for several more over the coming weeks.
Gomez said that he expected that, as is customary in Cayman, people would be leaving things until the last minute, so the Elections Office will be open until midnight on 2 January to give people every possible chance. But he urged those who are qualified not to leave things until then and to come by today.
“The right to vote is a great equalizer,” he said. “Your vote matters just as much as the next person's. However, in order to vote you must first be registered.”
With at least 18,000 people expected to be on the register in time for May 2013, the other pressing issue facing government is how they will be voting. The government has not yet made a decision regarding how the extra three MLAs will be slotted into the existing political landscape.
The premier rejected the majority vote in the recent referendum for one man, one vote because the number of ‘yes’ votes did not reach the artificially high goal of 50% of the entire electorate, but he has discussed the possibility of dividing the country into nine two-MLA constituencies based along a doubling up of the proposed single member constituencies. However, a promised committee to examine that does not appear to have been formed.
The Elections Office confirmed recently that they will need to know exactly how the three new seats will be incorporated before 12 December when the elections writs are issued.
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