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Beau Sejour could be ‘super polling station’ for election

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FOUR DAYS of voting at a ‘super polling station’ at Beau Sejour, two days of voting in the parish polling stations, and a big push for postal votes, are all part of changes proposed for Guernsey’s 2020 general election.

Instead of going to the polls on one day, it is now likely to become a four-day process, and that does not include postal voting.

The changeover to island-wide voting has meant a massive rethink of the logistics to ensure that long queues do not put off islanders from engaging in the democratic process.

The States’ Assembly & Constitution Committee has put forward a policy letter with lots of planned changes to cope with island voting.

A big unknown is whether more voters will be inspired to exercise their democratic right under the new system, and in order to cover all bases, the assumption is that they will.

It is also anticipated that voters will take longer to cast their votes, even if they arrive with a pre-arranged list, because the ballot paper is going to be a lot bigger with a lot more names on it.

In the 2016 election there were seven districts with five or six seats and islanders were choosing from a list of around 12 candidates.

Next year, voters could be choosing from a list of around 100 candidates and casting a maximum of 38 votes.

Additional time to complete the ballot paper has been factored into the election preparations and more booths will be used at the parish stations, along with bigger ballot boxes.

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An advanced or ‘super’ polling station will be established at Beau Sejour, which has a fairly central location and good parking.

This will be open for four days from 8am-8pm on Saturday 13 June, Sunday 14 June, Tuesday 16 June and the official election day of Wednesday 17 June.

Anyone from any parish who is registered on the electoral roll will be able to vote at Beau Sejour. But that is not the case for the parish stations – it is stressed that only residents of the parish will be able to vote in their parish polling station.

States' Assembly & Constitution president Deputy Neil Inder. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 26333372)

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Fifteen polling stations throughout the 10 parishes will be operating on Tuesday 16 June and Wednesday 17 June from 8am -8pm. That is a slight drop on the previous general election when there were 17 polling stations, but the overall picture has much greater accessibility to voting.

It is estimated at this stage that 20% of the electorate will vote at the weekend at Beau Sejour, 25% will cast their votes on the Tuesday at the lesiure centre or the parish polling stations, and 25% will go to the various polls on the Wednesday.

There is going to be a campaign to promote the benefits of postal voting in the run-up to the election and it is forecast that 30% of the electorate will use this option.

The process of postal voting is going to be streamlined and improved, but postal voters will have to have their applications in by midnight on Friday 5 June in order to take advantage.

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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