June 19, 2019
(CMR) The CPR group have asked the governor to intervene in what they say is an overly cumbersome and politicized verification process meant to detail the people initiatives referendum process for the cruise berthing and port facility.
The have shared the following correspondence sent to Governor Roper today:
We were honoured to present to you as the Chairman of Cabinet, via your representative Mr Matthew Forbes, a certified copy of the original Petition document signed by not less than 25 per cent of persons registered as electors in accordance with section 90 of the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009, on Wednesday 12th June 2019, in fulfillment of the Cayman Islands Constitutional Order (2009) Section 70 requirement to initiate a People-Initiated Referendum.
We thank you again for hosting two meetings with our group and providing guidance on the People-Initiated Referendum process, also for confirming the independence of the Elections Office and reporting lines of the Elections Supervisor directly to the Governor’s Office.
We look forward to receiving a written detailed confirmation, within 7 business days, of the verification process to be undertaken by the Elections Office, including the script which Elections Office officials will follow during door to door visits, and how the verification process will address all the concerns raised at our 7th June 2019 meeting with you (as summarized in Appendix 1 (points 1 to 6) of CPR Cayman’s 12th June 2019 letter to you).
The following has come to our attention since our 12th June 2019 submission:
a) Please confirm the basis that Cabinet would direct the Elections Supervisor regarding the process to be undertaken for the verification of signatures. We were told the Cabinet has no engagement or ability to direct the Elections Supervisor as he reports directly to the Governor. In the court of public opinion it seems fair to conclude that the integrity of the process has been compromised due to the Cabinet directing the Elections Supervisor, despite your assurances.
b) Verification Form – this form was not mentioned during our discussions or at the town hall presentation. While a reasonable measure for registered voters overseas, it seems onerous and unnecessary for people visiting the Elections Office wishing to verify their signatures or for signatories visited at their homes.
c) Cut off point for the Elections Office to receive additional signatures – during our 28th May 2019 meeting, Mr. Howell, the Election Supervisor, indicated that we could continue to collect and hand in additional signatures for the petition, after the initial submission. However, on Wednesday 12th June 2019 during the petition submission, Mr Howell mentioned that there would be a cut off point for additional petition signatures. We are particularly concerned that this cut off point should not be set while the Elections Office is still in the process of trying to locate petitioners, in line with our concerns noted in point 3 of the attached Addendum.
d) Voters who cannot be located – the Elections Office must make every effort to locate all persons who have signed the petition. If the Elections Office cannot locate a petition signatory, they should not be considered unverified (and permanently removed from the petition signatory count).
In the case of signatories who cannot be located after the Elections Office have utilized all of its avenues, the Elections Office should provide a list of these persons to CPR Cayman for CPR Cayman to assist the Elections Office with locating them.
e) 2016 verification process – Mr Howell was very confident that he would be able to locate all persons who signed the petition, based on the Elections Office experience with the 2016 door to door verification process. However, 100 per cent of all households were contacted during the 2016 process, whereas the present verification process will only visit the addresses for the 5,289 plus persons who signed the petition. By contacting 100 per cent of households, they would have eventually encountered all persons who had moved, at their new addresses, this will not be the case for the current verification process.
f) List of electors – In our discussions it was confirmed that we would be using the 1st April 2019 list, whereas Mr Howell has now stated that the 1st July 2019 list will be used.
In light of the above, and in the interest of transparency, we dutifully request that you share with us the legal basis for the anticipated door to door verification process and ancillary form.
In summary, we are very concerned that the proposed verification process is onerous and over complicated. The proposed verification form is intimidating in its current form and simply duplicates the information already provided. Many civil servants and others who signed the petition in good faith may well feel uncomfortable being asked to sign a separate form such as this in the presence of a government employee for fear of losing their job, a government contract or their pension.
The verification of every single signature gathered is simply unnecessary and heavy handed. The signature gathering process was completely open and as such can be verified by sampling.
We fear that this genuine, people led effort is in danger of being completely undermined by an overly bureaucratic process which could appear to have been adopted simply to quash the wishes and choices of a large number of the electorate.
This petition is a historic and positive sign of an increasingly educated and enlightened community, and as such should be welcomed by our government. We are sincerely concerned that this verification process as proposed will begin to cast a shadow over the seeming openness of our government