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Voter registration changes – wait until after Bailiff referendum, say PPC

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NO changes should be made to voter registration before the upcoming referendum on the dual role of the Bailiff, the chairman of the Privileges and Procedures Committee has said.

Election observers from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association made a series of recommendations after analysing Jersey’s general election in May

Deputy Russell Labey said that the committee was due to meet next week to consider the recommendations from a group of electoral observers following May’s general election.

During questions without notice, Senator Sam Mézec said there had been a ‘massive spike’ in the number of people who were able to vote in May’s election despite not being put on the electoral role.

He asked Deputy Labey if he believed it ‘sensible’ not to hold any public votes until the issue with voter registration was addressed. In November politicians agreed to hold a referendum on whether the dual role of the Bailiff – who acts as the Island’s top judge and President of the States – should be split.

‘That is a point of view,’ Deputy Labey replied. ‘This train was set in motion and we should see it through if we are to stay on schedule with this particular issue in regards to the dual role. It will mean we go to effectively another public election without any of the changes we may want to bring in – that is an impending matter for the Assembly to determine.’

Meanwhile, Deputy Montfort Tadier asked Deputy Labey how many times the States needed to receive a report to say that the electoral process needed reform before action would be taken.

‘It is up to the Assembly how many times it wants to receive reports which say the same thing on something they may know already,’ Deputy Labey replied. ‘I think we both have made that point before.

‘I have committed to bringing back to the Assembly on behalf of PPC a recommendation for electoral reform in the first year of this parliamentary session so we have got a chance to reform internally.

‘If we don’t manage to reach a consensus on that we will once again – because the status quo is not in my opinion an option – perhaps have to invite an outside body to recommend reform.’

Following his response, Constable Chris Taylor asked: ‘Could I ask the Deputy which is more important – the will of the people who in a referendum asked to keep the Constables or these numerous reports we have which say perhaps they should leave?’

Deputy Russell Labey replied: ‘Well it’s interesting, isn’t it? I wonder if ever it is stated how long a referendum result is active for? Is it in perpetuity so the Constables’ position can’t be looked at at all?’

Krysta Eaves

By Krysta Eaves
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