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Senatorial voter turnout up – but only by small amount

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VOTER turnout for the Senatorial elections was up by nearly four per cent compared to 2014.

Voters at the Town Hall. Picture: ROB CURRIE (21536340)

About 2,000 more people cast their vote in the Islandwide election – despite more than 400 fewer Islanders being on the electoral register than four years ago. A total of 26,947 people voted, representing a turnout of 43.38 per cent.

Lisa Hart, Deputy States Greffier, said that she had hoped for a greater turnout but was pleased that the figures were up compared to the last election.

As part of a pre-election campaign, the States Greffier department ran the vote.je website to keep Islanders informed about the election process and provided information on each of the candidates.

Ms Hart also revealed that specific questions about voting habits would be included in the next Jersey Opinions and Lifestyles Survey, including whether people voted in the election and, if not, why not.

She said: ‘It is not as much as I hoped, given the amount of effort put in to encourage people to vote – but we can’t force people to vote.

‘We didn’t set a target figure, we just wanted it to be up. I would have liked it to be up more, but it is good to see that more people did vote – 2,000 extra people voted, so I am very happy with that.’

She also said that they made specific efforts to ensure the Island’s Portuguese and Polish communities were aware of their eligibility to take part in the election.

‘I don’t like the idea of us not being an Island community,’ Ms Hart added. ‘Everyone who lives in the Island and is eligible has a vote and should be able to participate in how our Island is run.

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‘We thought if we had the information properly translated, then people whose main language was Portuguese or Polish would not only find it easier but also hopefully [would] get the sense that we were reaching out to them and wanted them to be part of the process.’

The States Greffier’s department was praised by a team of election observers for their attempts to increase participation.

However, in a preliminary report, the observers raised concerns about the number of registered voters in St Helier – where only half the population are registered – and the low voter turnout generally.

Two days after the election, Philip Paulwell, head of the election observers’ mission, said: ‘Areas of concern relate to the number of uncontested elections, the disparity in the equality of the vote across districts and parishes and the low voter turnout, which arguably undermines the principle that elections in Jersey are fully genuine.’

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