Anonymous 'none of the above' campaigners must declare election expenses

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ELECTION candidates – including those behind ‘none of the above’ campaigns – are being reminded that they must declare their expenses or risk criminal proceedings.

Those who stood last Wednesday are required by law to submit an expenses form by 20 July.

But with this year being the first to offer the option of voting for NOTA in districts and parishes where the number of candidates equals the number of seats, the Jersey Electoral Authority has reminded those behind poster campaigns urging Islanders to vote for no one that they too must declare their expenses, if they totalled more than £600.

The JEA, which oversaw the general election, said: ‘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”.’

The law states that candidates can spend £2,050 plus 13 pence per registered voter on their campaigns. However, third parties – those not seeking election – who attempt to influence the result must declare expenses over £600. It also states that ‘a person who fails, without reasonable excuse, to deliver a declaration’ in accordance with the law is ‘liable to a fine’.

St Brelade Constable Mike Jackson faced a high-profile poster campaign to attempt to persuade parishioners to vote against him, while St Saviour Constable Kevin Lewis also had posters put up opposing his candidacy. More than 1,100 NOTA votes were cast in St Saviour, while 882 chose that option in St Brelade.

In 2018, two Deputies – Scott Wickenden and Hugh Raymond – alongside election candidate Bernie Manning appeared in the Magistrate’s Court over allegations that they failed to declare their expenses in time.

The then-Deputies faced losing their seat if convicted but the Attorney General dropped the case before it reached trial after it emerged that 28 other candidates – 13 of whom were subsequently elected – failed to meet the deadline.

Additionally, the then-Attorney General Robert MacRae said that a further 17 candidates – five of whom were elected – delivered a declaration within the deadline that it could be strongly argued was not compliant with the law.

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