Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Election Information from Privileges and Procedures: A Clarification

Islanders that are interested in standing for this year's elections can now register their details online.

Candidates need to upload their name, contact details and a photograph to www.vote.je

The website will go live with all the candidates' information on the 1st September 2014. The website gives out information on voting and registering to vote in preparation for the October 2014 elections. It has been set up by the Government's Privileges and Procedures Committee. Chairman, Deputy Jeremy Macon said: "Vote.je is the place where everyone can go to find out about the candidates who are standing for election in their parish or district. "We are giving prospective candidates two weeks to upload their details to the site before publishing their photograph and contact details on 1st September. After the nomination meetings, candidates’ manifestos will also be published on vote.je."
(Channel Television)

I see the actual website vote.je says

"Use this option to upload your contact details, photo and manifesto. Your contact details and photo will be published on this website from Monday 1 September 2014. Manifestos will be published the day after the nomination meetings which take place on Tuesday 16 September 2014 for Senators and Wednesday 17 September 2014 for Deputies and Connétables. You can upload your manifesto at a later date if you wish using Option 2."

The way the Channel TV report (see below) reads suggests - ‘We are giving prospective candidates two weeks to upload their details to the site before publishing their photograph and contact details on 1st September’. It sounds like Privileges and Procedures are forcing potential candidates to make a declaration of standing before they have to or are required to. What is this all about?

In order to find out, I contacted the Chair of PPC, Deputy Jeremy Macon. He explained that the Channel Television report on their website was misleading.

The aim of PPC is to ensure vote.je is a major portal for information on candidates to help voters with their decisions, and also to ensure that a published booklet is delivered to all voters households before pre-polling takes place. That means that if people go to pre-poll their choice, they will have the basic manifesto information about the candidates either Islandwide – as with Senators – or locally – as with Constables and Deputies.

It is, I think, an important consideration. Otherwise, people might pre-poll, and then when they get a leaflet, wish they had voted otherwise. Alternatively, they may defer pre-polling until such time as that information is forthcoming, which would defeat the object of pre-polling.

Because of tight production schedules, this means that candidates and manifestoes will need to be submitted within a 24 hour period after the nomination meetings. As there could be upwards of 100 people’s information involved – after all, this is a general election – this will make matters very tight indeed.

Hence the reason to permit candidates to put forward information in advance. At this stage, they may only have declared, and a complete manifesto is still in the process of being written, but this will enable the Greffier’s department (which is tasked with organising this by PPC) to start getting matters ready.

But for candidates who do not want to either publically declare candidature before (or close to) nomination nights, or who want to reserve the publication of their manifesto until after that date, there is – as Jeremy Macon told me – an alternative route to getting the information to the Greffe.

If you are intending to stand, you can email the Greffe with your name and contact details – email, phone- (so they can confirm you are who you say you are) but tell them this information is to be kept confidential until nomination night.

This will also enable them to supply you with information about the election booklet requirements etc, and any other details that will be useful for making best use of the vote.je website.

Likewise, it is possible to email the Greffier (or his Deputy) with a manifesto but to state that its publication is to be confidential and embargoed until after nomination night. After all, some candidates may not wish others to view their manifesto and steal their ideas prior to nomination!

As most candidates will probably have a manifesto in place before nomination night, this will ensure there is less to process in the 24 hour deadline after the nomination meeting – and the candidate can be sure their manifesto details do not get overlooked.

All this seems eminently sensible to me, but it is a shame the public report as presented by the media is misleading in not also adding the confidential route. Hopefully this (and I have the approval of Jeremy Macon to make this public), will set the record straight.


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