A politician has proposed creating a ‘None of the Above’ voting option in future parish elections.
St. Martin Constable Karen Shenton-Stone said the inclusion of the option would allow voters to express their disapproval if a States Member was voted for unopposed.
In the 2018 elections, 14 States Members were elected unopposed.
Explaining her amendment to a proposal by the Privileges and Procedures Committee (PPC) to change the composition of the States by bringing in 'super-constituencies' and ending the island-wide mandate, Constable Shenton-Stone said the ‘NOTA’ vote would provide a solution to the issue of unopposed candidates in Parishes “by allowing voters to express their disapproval of the candidates on the ballot.”
She added: “I am of the belief that a mechanism should be included in our voting system to ensure that Islanders have the final say in any election, regardless of how many candidates there are, and not allow the final outcome elections to be decided when nominations close.”
The Constable argued the vote would be different to spoiling the ballot or abstaining, as deliberately spoilt ballots are counted with erroneously spoilt ones. A ‘NOTA’, she said, provides clarity so the Assembly “can more clearly understand the levels of frustration voters may have.”
Pictured: Constable Shenton-Stone compared the idea to Indonesia's system, whereby an unopposed candidate must have over 50% of their vote against a 'NOTA,' to be elected.
Though the amendment mentions an “appropriate formal consequence” as a result of a candidate losing the vote to 'none of the above,' it doesn’t give a specific measure. The Constable put forward four suggestions:
...the losing candidate is permitted to sit in the States Assembly as a temporarily elected member, but will be subject to a confirmatory by-election several months later, thereby preventing the seat from becoming vacant.
The outgoing States Member is invited to fill the vacant seat until a by-election is organised to permanently fill the vacancy.
A member of a Parish municipality, such as a Procureur, is invited to temporarily fill the vacancy, but is prevented from running in the subsequent by-election.
The seat is left vacant until a new election is held at an appropriate time.
The Constable of St. Martin isn't the only States Member to have put forward an amendment to the proposition.
Deputy Jeremy Maçon is arguing that there should be 52 individuals sitting in the States Assembly, and explains in a report elaborating on his idea that a previous reduction in States Members from 53 to 49 was "arbitrary; the product of moving to a General Election and the wish to avoid an unwieldy ballot for 12 Senators."
"As someone who holds three Assistant Ministerships I might suggest the number of States Members is a calculation that should be based on how many are required to ensure effective management of the system in operation," he notes.
St. Clement Constable Len Norman, meanwhile, disagrees with PPC's suggested constituencies, which blend some parishes. As well as calling for an Independent Boundaries Commission to be established, he is asking that they be kept separate, explaining: "The Parishes are the very basis of our social life, our cultural life and out political life. This amendment ensures that it is not diminished."
Finally, Grouville Constable John Le Maistre has made a push for a referendum, saying any changes the States Assembly agree to should be "null and void and of no effect unless the majority of the people voting in a referendum on the question of proposed changes in the composition and election of the States... have voted in favour of the proposed changes."
PPC's proposition and amendments are due to be debated in the States Assembly on 1 December.
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