States to allow election candidates up to £6,000
CANDIDATES in the June’s general election will be able to spend up to £6,000 on their campaign, and will receive a grant of £500 to put towards it, the States decided after more than a day of debate.
Members also approved a political party being able to spend funds on promoting itself and its policies, but only by candidates representing that party assigning up to half of their allowed expenditure to it.
Parties will not be able to spend more than twice the amount allowed for an individual, or £9,000, whichever is the lower figure.
Ahead of the official election day of 17 June, parish polling stations will open a day earlier, with a ‘super polling station’ at Beau Sejour on the same two days, and a further opportunity for people to vote at Beau Sejour on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 June.
After members had dealt with a total of 11 amendments, occasionally getting confused as to the implications of particular proposals, general debate opened with Deputy Mark Dorey, who said he was concerned that some 2,200 people – 75% – of those who had registered online had requested a postal vote, which suggested that many more would vote by post this time than in past elections.
He felt that this could lead to postal voters being unduly influenced by others when they were filling in the form at home, and he was concerned about its impact on the results which could lead to negative comments from observers and that could have a negative effect on the island’s democratic reputation.
It was too late to change now, but he urged the States’ Assembly and Constitution Committee and Home Affairs to continue monitoring the number of postal votes, and perhaps make changes, particularly to the online registration process, where postal voting was being given as a default option.
Deputy Richard Graham wondered why islanders needed four days of polling, while in the UK the general election was all being done in a single day.
Deputy Rhian Tooley was concerned that a spending limit as high as £6,000 or £7,000 would make some candidates think that it was the minimum amount needed to have a campaign which would reach the entire electoral roll.
A call for members to agree to one of the higher figures proposed was defended by Deputy Matt Fallaize, who said the government-sponsored and distributed booklet would enable every candidate to circulate a manifest which would reach every elector on the roll.
Policy & Resources president Deputy Gavin St Pier urged Sacc to take away from the debate the urgent need to review the suggestion that candidates would in some way need to account for the contribution to their campaigns of friends and family volunteering their assistance.
This would be ‘an absolute nonsense’, he said.
Before members voted, Sacc president Deputy Neil Inder laid a technical amendment, seconded by Deputy Jennifer Merrett, which proposed that £600,000 rather than £550,000, as in the original proposition, be transferred from the 2020 budget reserve to the Royal Court budget, which funds the expenditure of Sacc to cover the costs of managing the 2020 election, and which came into effect after members approved the £500 grant.
n The voting in favour of the £6,000 spending limit was 21 in favour and 14 against, with two abstentions.
n Members voted by 20 to 13, with two abstentions, in favour of the expenditure limits for parties.