Jersey electoral referendum: Voters choose option B

Town Hall Polling Station
Image caption Turnout was low with 26% of eligible voters taking part

People in Jersey have voted to reform the electoral system after a referendum on the issue.

There were three options in the alternative vote poll, two offering reform and one keeping the status quo.

Option B won in a second round of counting, with the no reform option rejected after a low turnout.

Option A was for 42 deputies in six equal districts, B was for 30 deputies in six districts and 12 parish constables.

In total, 6,707 islanders voted for option A, 8,190 for option B and there was a 26% turnout.

This was a non-binding referendum but if the States approves the voters' choice, the island will be split into six equal sized districts.

It will mean the end of the island-wide mandate with the loss of the office of senator.

'Clear division'

The referendum asked islanders how many politicians they wanted in the States, how they should be elected and the size of constituencies in Jersey.

Constable Simon Crowcroft, chairman of the group responsible for the make-up of the States of Jersey, said more needed to be done to encourage people to vote.

He said the group would be tabling a proposal to introduce polling cards telling people where and how to vote.

"They are simple devices and are used in the UK - a lot of people rely on them to jog their memories."

Montfort Tadier from the A Team, the group which campaigned for that option said: "We can be a world centre for learning on not how to run a referendum.

"We expected a low turnout and there is a clear division in the island between the country parishes and the urban parishes."

Former Deputy Andrew Lewis, who headed up the group supporting the successful option B, said: "It is not a slim victory, it is a large amount in terms of the number of people that turned out.

"It was the strong parish connection that won the day, it is very important to people."

'Bit of a mess'

Option C would have maintained the status quo of eight senators elected island wide, 29 deputies in a range of constituency sizes and 12 parish constables.

Lyndon Farnham, who supported option C, said: "It is not really a ringing endorsement at the end of the campaign.

"It is a bit of a mess really, there is a lot of work to do and a lot of people that need talking to."

Political analyst Adrian Lee said the debate would now be over whether the turnout was enough of an endorsement.

He said: "A 26% turnout is pretty low by any standard. The last time a majority of the registered electorate turned out was 50.5% in 1978.

"The normal Jersey practice is not to vote but this result really plumbs depths.

"The town and country division is still obviously there but the overall result on that turnout would be very hard for many to take as an endorsement."

More than 2,000 islanders took part in pre-poll voting either by post or at St Paul's Centre in St Helier.

However, the referendum will not be binding because it will be up to the States to decide if and how it reforms itself.

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