A light snack at lunchtime with my father, who viewed my electorial submissions with some dismay. He is not in favour of keeping the Constables in the States. It was the old argument - "if they want to stand, let them stand as Deputies". All well and good, but then he went on to say how he thought (from many years experience, going back to the 1950s), that a lot of the Constables didn't do very much anyway - he made an exception for his own Constable, Simon Crowcroft, whom he said did a good job.
That's all very well, but if the Constables are removed from the States, and can stand as Deputies if they want, who are the ones who are most likely to do so? Those from the smaller rural Parishes, with a lesser workload, I imagine.
After all, if Simon Crowcroft, as Constable, stood as Deputy in a States without the Constables, wouldn't someone standing as Deputy against him be likely to say: "I can commit to be your Deputy 100% of my time. If you vote for Constable Crowcroft, you'll have someone who has to devote at least half of his time to Parish matters." In the smaller rural Parishes, however, the Constable could stand and say "My duties as Constable are very light, and I'll have plenty of time to participate in the States". So I think the reverse of what is intended would be the result: the Constables with smaller rural Parishes, some of whom may well be lazy (although I've only head that said of one), would be the ones most likely to get in as Deputies.
Meanwhile, the transcripts of the hearings continues to lag behind - it is still in July, and I wonder if Ian Gorst's will appear on the site before the closing date at the end of August, so that we can examine in detail what he said. It means it is difficult to present any submission to take into account the Chief Minister's point of view and address it. Michael Dun may well catch up with me, in the meantime. He's up to his third submission.
David Castledine's submission has suggested compulsory voting to boost numbers, as in Australia. I think that would be a violation of people's rights, turning the Island close to a police state - unless there is an option to vote for "none of the above".
To save embarrassement from large numbers of spoilt papers as protest, the Australian system counts them as "informal votes", which sounds so much better than "protest votes". In 2010, more than 600,000 Australians lodged informal votes at the federal election after former Labor leader Mark Latham advocated blank ballots in protest against the political system. He had also stated that he did not think it was fair for the government to force citizens to vote if they don't have an opinion or threaten them into voting with a fine.
Some of those votes were blank, but some could have been due to mistakes in numbering in the preferential system. Nevertheless the figure was 5.65% of the ballots cast compared with only 3.95 per cent at the 2007 election.
This was deemed by the Australian Electoral Commission to not break any election laws, despite Chief Justice Barwick's opinion that voters must mark the ballot paper, and Justice Blackburn who thought that it was a violation of the election laws. Of course, if there is a secret ballot, no one can prevent anyone spoiling their paper; conversely, if someone was taken to court for spoiling their ballot paper, it would mean that the ballot was not truly secret, and the whole system of democracy would be exposed as a hoax in that country.
Paul F.D. Letherbarrow's submission, as well as removing Constables, says that "It is essential to re-draw boundaries to create democratic balance. The current system does not allow true representation. In setting boundaries it is important to ensure as best a demographic mix of socioeconomic classes as possible."
That's all very well, but it is far easier to group Parishes, say St Brelade, St Peter and St Ouen to form "Jersey West", and decide the number of deputies to have parity with other large districts, than it is to decide on arbitrary boundaries with all the costs involved. Populations of Parishes are a matter of record. An artificial boundary is not only more prone to gerrymandering - just look at the controversy in the UK - but also means confusion for the electorate. It is difficult enough for the poor devils in St Helier with all the different districts.
Teenage takeover - I am a trident student that has been observing lessons and attending evening classes but working at the l'Office de Jèrriais and today we were all at the...
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