They may have witnessed voters turning up to the wrong polling station and inaccuracies on electoral registers, but independent observers have concluded that Wednesday’s election was well-administered and fair.
Giving its preliminary findings this morning, a ‘mission’ from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association said: “Following extensive electoral reform, Jersey has delivered a well-administered and more competitive election than in the past.
“The election was found to be delivered in a calm and professional manner, with clear efforts to provide a positive experience for the voters of Jersey.
“However, not unexpectedly, issues arose during this electoral cycle, including the understanding of the newly established Jersey Electoral Authority, the navigation of new constituency boundaries and voter registration.”
Pictured: Members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association announce their preliminary findings on Friday.
It added: “A historic number of women Deputies were elected, despite the absence of special measures to support women candidates [such as quotas or financial support].
“19 of the 37 deputies are women and two of the 12 Constables.
“The number of uncontested seats reduced from 14 in 2018 to eight in 2022. However, all of the uncontested seats were for the Connétables position, with eight out of 12 Connétables elected unopposed.
“Overall, the legal framework provides a basis for a democratic election.”
The nine-member mission, led by Scottish MSP Martin Whitfield and including observers and election professionals from the Isle of Man, Kenya, Sierra Leone, France, Poland and the Netherlands, said it would produce a full report by the end of August.
Mr Whitfield said this would address many of the issues that had been raised with observers, which have been referenced in today’s initial report.
In many ways, the mission is appraising some the changes that it itself has suggested. One of its recommendations after 2018 was that the Jersey election law “should stipulate that electoral constituencies be of equal or comparable size in order to guarantee one of the fundamental principles of electoral rights, the equality of the vote.”
That was introduced but the new constituencies have not gone down well with the electorate. Indeed, it could be a significant reason why the proposer of the reforms, former Privileges and Procedures Committee Chairman Russell Labey, lost his seat on Wednesday.
Some successful candidates have already said that they will seek to reinstate the island-wide mandate. With a return to the old system unlikely, a Guernsey-style system – where all States Members are voted island-wide – could be on the cards, or at the very least explored.
Today's preliminary report from the observers notes: “The electoral system remains hotly debated before and during the campaign.
"Some mission interlocutors and public figures expressed regret at the loss of the eight Senator seats that had an island-wide mandate under the previous system.
“Others raised concerns about the continued existence of two separate categories of Members, despite their equal voting weight in the States Assembly.”
This election has, on the face of it, had its fair share of glitches: Express has received reports of voters being sent to the wrong polling station, voters turning up to find their name already been crossed off the register, voters first being told they couldn’t vote for Constable, then being told they could; and polling stations running out of ballot papers.
There were also more public errors: Poll-topper in St. Lawrence, St. John and Trinity, Deputy Kirsten Morel, was initially listed as a member of Jersey Alliance on official literature, and Jersey Post sent the wrong Vote.je candidate manifesto booklet to voters.
The observers said in today's report: “Inaccuracies of the voter register were directly observed in 34 occasions, either because voters had been re-activated from the register and did not know about it, or because of what the law describes as ‘administrative errors’.
“In constituencies where borders had changed, or where a new polling station had been created, the mission observed voters turning up at the wrong polling station.
"A few voters in St. Helier complained that the website Vote.je had directed them to the wrong polling station.”
Addressing a lack of diversity of candidates, it concludes: “The candidates standing in this election continued to lack ethnic diversity. One political party (Reform) nominated several candidates of different backgrounds, most of whom obtained seats including the first black woman Deputy and first Romanian Deputy.”
It added that the island has no special measures, such as quotas or funding, to promote candidates from different backgrounds.
The mission also noted that the current system made it difficult to assess turnout and needed to change.
“The total number of voters having cast a ballot was not required to be announced, which makes it difficult for the general public to calculate turnout,” it said.
“In fact, the Mission noted that the counting on the voters’ lists of the number of voters having cast a vote was not a requirement, thus impeding a reconciliation of the number of valid ballots and turnout per polling station.
“It is good practice that this information is made available to the public at the polling station level as soon as possible.”
But overall, the CPA mission, which had been invited by the former Privileges and Procedures Committee to observe the election, concluded that it had been fair and well run.
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.