By Eliot Lincoln
SO we’re nearly there. One week to go until Jersey’s 2022 general election. There’s still time to get on the supplementary register to vote. The deadline for this is noon today. If you are reading this on the morning of Wednesday 15 June and have not registered yet, put down the paper and do so on vote.je. It takes a few minutes. I’ll wait… All done? Let’s go on…
Voter turnout in Jersey’s elections is nowhere near where it should be. In our previous election in 2018, only 43% of those registered to vote actually voted. What does this say about the electorate and engagement in Jersey’s politics? It’s easy in a jurisdiction such as ours to take democracy and civil liberty for granted, but we only have to cast our eyes towards eastern Europe to see the effect that an undemocratic nation can have on a neighbour.
Having talked to many politicians who have been out canvassing over the past few weeks, there’s certainly some great engagement, but at times there is also a lack of interest. Many still don’t understand the new process. Some don’t feel they can make a difference or are happy to suggest that ‘all politicians are the same’.
Having spent lots of time with many of our politicians over the past five years, I can say that, in general, they care deeply and are passionate about our island, and work hard every day.
I have heard from some candidates out canvassing that a few Islanders who have previously voted are possibly not going to this time. Clearly, something has gone wrong here. If you are not intending to vote because, for example, you are disgruntled about the loss of the Senators then, rather than staying away, ask your candidates which of them is committed to a return to an Island-wide mandate… and get out and vote for them. Use your vote to effect change.
For those that haven’t engaged in the process, it is understandable that there is a lack of interest in it; I’m not really interested in football, so struggle to have a conversation about it. My daughter switches off as soon as I start to talk about the intricacies of managing a project (strange, I know). But politics is different. It IS the Island. It IS our housing crisis. It IS the debate on population. Politics is the mechanics our island uses to make big and difficult decisions that affect all of us. So a lack of interest in these things is something I struggle to understand, even more than the offside rule.
No vote, no voice
Remember, a lack of participation in the process means you can’t complain about the result or the next four years of decisions made in our States Assembly. Your vote counts. If you feel strongly on local issues such as housing, the cost of living, the Hospital, and population, then engage with your candidates and vote for those that align with your way of thinking.
Spend some time looking at the manifestos of the candidates and the political parties. Jersey now has a number of parties looking for election, and while it may take a couple of terms of office, I truly believe that our direction of travel towards more party politics is the right path to take. Parties are much easier to hold to account than independent politicians, and it’s accountability we need in our States Assembly and our government.
For those who are looking for a way to get engaged, start at vote.je or search for ‘votejersey’ on YouTube.
For those of you looking to engage in person, a few election events are still to take place (again, listed on vote.je). Candidates and political party contact details are also here. Engage constructively (our candidates are people too), and ask questions that mean something to you.
Flow.je is also a great resource for candidate info, social media posts and upcoming events.
Work out where your polling station is (some districts have more than one) and plan when you will vote. Make time for it – it is too easy to have the best of intentions on the morning of 22 June and then run out of time as the day takes over.
Better still, if you are in town this week and registered in time, you can pre-poll at the St Paul’s Centre. Also, many people I know are using a postal vote, which needs to be received by noon on 22 June.
Discuss and vote
Speak to others in your household or circle of friends. Encourage discussion and participation in the process. But most of all, get out there and vote. Engage in your civic duty.
Come the morning of 23 June, there will be at least 43 disappointed individuals. The best of luck to all 92 individuals who have put themselves forward. And overall, the message bears repeating… please vote!
Eliot Lincoln, a director at Helier Consulting, is chair of the Progress Party.