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Secret 'NOTA' campaigners told to declare spending

Secret 'NOTA' campaigners told to declare spending

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Secret 'NOTA' campaigners told to declare spending

Wednesday 29 June 2022


Those behind ‘None of the Above’ campaigns to oust Constables must declare how much money they spent or whether they received donations, the Jersey Electoral Authority has said.

Under the law, politicians must declare their campaign expenses, as do any third parties which may have sought to influence the election.

The JEA, which was launched earlier this year and is overseeing its first election, said it would “like to remind any third parties who incurred expenses or received donations relating to the 22 June election that, in certain circumstances, they need to file a declaration with the JEA by 20 July 2022.”

An official offence

It added: “If a declaration is required, it is an offence to fail to deliver one on time without reasonable excuse.

“Expenses can be incurred in both campaigning for or against the election of candidates (or political parties). 

“For the avoidance of doubt this would include expenditure encouraging the casting of votes for ‘None of the candidates’.”

Votes cast for NOTA

‘None of the Above’ was introduced as an option this year for uncontested seats, so featured in eight elections for Constable.

In some parishes, the number of NOTA votes was high.

None of the Above poster St Brelade Mike Jackson.jpeg

Pictured: Banners and posters were put up in St. Brelade encouraging voters to vote 'None of the Above' in the election for Constable.

In St. Saviour, more that 42% of votes cast were for NOTA – 1,142 votes compared to successful candidate Kevin Lewis’s 1,552.

In St. Brelade, where Mike Jackson was returned to office with 2,333 votes compared to 882 NOTA votes, there was a poster and banner campaign – suggesting that expenses were incurred. 

NOTA supporters of St. Brelade

One of those supporting the NOTA campaign in the parish was Karl Sutton, who owns the Hideout kiosk at La Pulente.

Mr Sutton had taken the parish to court over his ability to trade on the slipway, which the parish had sought to remove. Just before the final hearing, the parish settled, and the Hideout remains open while a café is built on the site of the former toilets, which will operate as a Nude Food outlet.

The saga cost the parish more than £60,000 in legal costs.

Mr Sutton said: “I was strongly supportive of the NOTA campaign in St. Brelade, but I was not behind it. Everyone rallied after an email was circulated which raised concerns about the Constable.

"I’ve never met the person who sent it, but it mobilised nearly 900 people to choose None of the Above."

“Those supporting NOTA were simply promoting another option. In the end, Constable Jackson won and we lost - that’s democracy and I posted a message of congratulations to him on Facebook."

He continued: “I think the campaigners want to remain under the radar because they don’t want the backlash. Unfortunately, there’s been quite a lot of mudslinging online, including from fake accounts, and I think people now just want to step back.

“I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t be prepared to share their expenses if they have to, as long as they were allowed to remain anonymous; as I said, there’s been a lot of criticism posted on social media.”

"A funded platform for an attack"

“I think the NOTA philosophy is right in democratic terms but perhaps needs to be tweaked in the light of the interpretations during this election," Mr Jackson said.

“I don't think anyone had any idea that it would be used as a funded platform for an attack on particular individuals. 

“Having an anonymous body requesting voters to cast what is an anonymous vote anyway seems perplexing. 

“It is therefore only fair that those who wish to campaign in this way declare themselves and submit their expenses to the JEA.”

Mike-Jackson.jpg

Pictured: St. Brelade Constable Mike Jackson: "I don't think anyone had any idea that NOTA would be used as a funded platform for an attack on particular individuals."

He added: “I gather from my discussions while out canvassing and from those within the polling stations in St. Brelade that many voters were confused and felt the concept was an unnecessary waste of time and cost. I did explain the reasons why.

“I expect the new Privileges and Procedures Committee will need to get to grips with this during the next four years.”

£600 threshold

Asked about what powers the JEA had to investigate anonymous campaigns, the authority’s chairman, John Everett, said: “If a third party fails to deliver a declaration, without reasonable excuse, then the law allows the JEA to refer matters to the Attorney General. 

“However, in the case of third parties, no declaration needs to be made unless at least £600 has been spent.”

READ MORE ...

None of the Above: NOTA-lotta fun for some Constables...

Constable faces mysterious 'None of the Above' campaign

'None of the above' campaign fails to unseat St. Brelade Constable

LISTEN: Eight States Assembly seats with only 'none of the above' to beat

Islanders to be able to vote for 'none of the above'

LISTEN...

Express previously disassembled the new 'None of the Above' option in a podcast...

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Comments

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.

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Posted by Dave Mathews on
"Unfortunately, there’s been quite a lot of mudslinging online, including from fake accounts"

Seriously? The people I saw who were critical of the way the owners of the Hideout have been handling things were from very real accounts.
Posted by Alex Leslie on
We don’t know who you are. We cannot find you and there is little to nothing we can do other than politely ask you to hand yourselves in for repercussions that do not exist.
Posted by john garner on
“However, in the case of third parties, no declaration needs to be made unless at least £600 has been spent.”................so ok 20 people each spent £599 .....next please..!!!!
Posted by John Henwood on
If the Electoral Authority wants to be taken seriously it must explain how it's going to pursue those anonymous individuals who promote NOTA in certain parishes. So it's an offense to fail to deliver an expenses declaration - what is the Authority going to do about it?
Alongside this Constable elect Kevin Lewis - he against whom so many NOTA votes were cast - is seeking to have the none-of-the-above option removed. Perhaps he's afraid the NOTAs will unseat him next time. If his performance in his new role is to the same standard that as a minister, it seems entirely possible.
Posted by Private Individual on
It is just the result of years of incompetence from a failed government that wants to control every aspect of our lives.
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