Election observers will share their preliminary findings today – beginning the post-mortem on Wednesday’s new format.
A mission from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association British Islands and Mediterranean Region has been in the island for the fortnight to keep a close eye on the election.
It will judge the 2022 election against international standards, commitments and obligations as well as domestic laws.
Although they will not interfere in democratically made decisions, the observers are able to comment on the impact of the new changes, such as the controversial removal of the island-wide mandate.
Recommendations by CPA BIMR observers after the 2018 election – the first time the group had been invited – were a key influence in this year’s changes to electoral districts, including the creation of nine ‘super-constituencies’.
It’s Election Day in #Jersey! Jersey is going to the polls today to elect 49 Members of the @StatesAssembly. Find out more about our independent Election Observation Mission, conducted on behalf of the @CPA_BIMR. #JerseyEOM pic.twitter.com/bpbQDB1jx6— Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (@CPA_UK) June 22, 2022
Pictured: CPA observers from a number of jurisdictions have been in Jersey this week.
In many ways, therefore, the mission will be 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.
The CPA observers will report how the election was run: Was it easy for voters to register? Could more people have voted? Did minority communities feel part of the election process? Did the Jersey Electoral Authority fulfil its oversight role? Are Jersey’s election laws fit for purpose? Etc.
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.
Although the CPA BIMR mission includes elected representatives, and is headed by Martin Whitfield, a Member of the Scottish Parliament and former MP, it also includes electoral, constitutional and legal experts.
The group, which was invited to observe by PPC, will announce its initial findings today and then produce a fuller report two months later.
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