Vetting the Register of Electors

| 12/01/2017

The Elections Office has been working commendably to encourage as many young persons as possible to register to vote. This registration drive seems to include Caymanians who are 17 years old and will turn 18 before Election Day. Young persons who are Caymanian “by entitlement” under the Immigration Law appear liable to automatically lose their status and thereby cease to be Caymanian on their 18th birthday.

There are significant numbers of persons who are Caymanian by entitlement. Unless the Elections Office is distinguishing between types of Caymanian it would appear that there could be a substantial risk that some persons who are being registered to vote may not in fact be qualified to vote on Election Day.

A person who is Caymanian by entitlement may not be Caymanian after their 18th birthday unless they have made a suitable continuation application and have had it granted under s. 22(9) of the Immigration Law. The Immigration Department requires such applications to be filed, and charges fees to applicants. Any person who has not been legally and ordinarily resident in Cayman for five out of the seven years immediately preceding the date of application cannot qualify for continuation. It can take some months for these applications to be determined.

What steps are being taken to ensure that only persons who are in fact qualified to vote are able to do so on Election Day? Are the appropriate immigration authorities confirming that prospective voters are in fact Caymanian and will possess that status when they cast their ballot?

This issue may be materially important, not least given how close results may be in our “first past the post” system in smaller than ever individual constituencies.

Auntie’s answer: As this is a very long question, I am going to answer it in two parts. Since the deadline to register to vote in May’s election is upon us (Monday, 16 January is the final day), I’m going to deal with the voter registration part of this first and address the immigration issue at a later date.

You very helpfully describe the relevant parameters set out in the Immigration Law (2015 Revision) for someone reaching their 18th birthday to be entitled to the right to be Caymanian.

An Elections Office representative explained that there is a similar provision in the Cayman Islands Constitution; Section 90 (1) (b) (iv) says voters have to be resident in the Cayman Islands for two out of the four years immediately preceding the date of registration to qualify for, and to remain on, the Register of Electors.

As has come up in a previous column (see Concerned that electoral roll contains addresses), the office will publish the list of electors for the May 2017 election to enable public scrutiny. The representative explained this claims and objections period, which runs from 1-20 February, “is the legal means for persons to challenge other persons on the revised list who may not have all the qualifications necessary to be registered or remain registered, or are listed on the register in an electoral district that is different from the one they reside in”.

Once any objections are raised, a registering officer will review those and then pass the details to the revising officer who is a magistrate, who will then decide if the person should be removed from the register.

If no one objects then the list will be published 1 April as the Official Register of Electors, the representative said, adding, “Therefore, the scrutiny of the revised list is an essential part of this process.”

In addition to this public perusal of the names, registering officers review the lists and will remove anyone who has become ineligible. The names of these officers, as well as a wealth of other election information, are easily accessible on the very comprehensive Elections Office website.

The laws mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library

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Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is insanity. It seems the government cannot even get the most fundamental aspects of our democracy right. If we cannot be confident that Caymanians and only Caymanians are voting, we and any government we elect, are nothing.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s not just the kids. How can they tell if adults are Caymanian? Often the documents they ask for prove nothing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t getting naturalised as a BOTC what makes you eligible to vote?

  4. Jotnar says:

    We cannot surely be relying on the public to deal with the Immigration status of individuals on the list given the complexity of determining status – as pointed out by the head of the Caymanian Bar it is far from straightforward – to say noting of the fact that the public is not generally aware of the facts that will determine status. The simple quote “registering officers review the lists and will remove anyone who has become ineligible” without explaining quite how that is done, or addressing the very specific and well founded concern that the original poster has identified, doesn’t fill me with confidence. Why cant they answer the specific question raised by the poster – HOW will the Registering officers deal with the fact that people under 18 have been encouraged to register, but may not have attempted or completed the continuation process? Its a straightforward question – the absence of a straightforward answer is disturbing.

    Can Auntie get a more comprehensive answer – one which actually addresses the concerns raised, rather than a combination of platitudes and passing the buck to public scrutiny.

  5. CGS says:

    All sorts of hocus pocus going on with this “Caymanian” thing.
    The Cayman Compass dated 13 January 2017 has an article about who is Caymanian.
    When someone wants to register to vote, what is required? Two forms of ID is what was used in one instance, a birth certificate and a BOTC passport.
    However, we are now being told that told neither of those documents is proof that they are Caymanian and they need to get a letter from the Chief Immigration Officer acknowledging them as Caymanian. So my question is how many people registering to vote were asked to produce this letter from the Immigration Department? My guess is zero!

    The Elections office claim of registering officers reviewing the register and removing ineligible voters along is another farce because many people have lived here for years, thought to be Caymanian when legally they are not. So how are these all-knowing registering officers using as the basis of their review?

  6. Anonymous says:

    The constitution requires that only Caymanians can vote. Is the elections office actually admitting to not properly checking that people are Caymanian before they are registered?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Auntie, with respect the elections office have not addressed the question. The public cannot know the immigration details of persons on the list and so are not in a position to vet it. Are they admitting to registering persons who are not Caymanian? Do their systems not prevent this from happening?