A forlorn wish for a fair ballot based on policy not personality
Saturday 1st December 2012, 10:00AM GMT.
SARK goes to the polls in less than a fortnight, with electors having 14 votes each and 22 candidates from which to choose.
The election is on Wednesday 12 December and, as has already been reported, two sitting conseillers will not be defending their seats and so at least a couple of ‘new’ faces will be present when the legislature meets in January.
Paul Armorgie and Helen Magell have decided against seeking another four-year term and so there will be vacancies on the Emergency Services, Medical and Tourism committees in respect of Conseiller Armorgie and on Education (where she was chairman) and the Douzaine in respect of Conseiller Magell.
Those vacancies, and others which may arise as a result of the election, will be filled at a special sitting of Chief Pleas early in January in a process that, as I have remarked before, is so seriously flawed and open to abuse as to almost defy belief.
To summarise my criticism, the number of votes cast in elections for several committees has exceeded the number available to conseillers because voting is done by show of hands and there is no check on the number of candidates members vote for. If there are two vacancies on a committee and four candidates then the total votes cast should not exceed two times the number of conseillers – 28 conseillers equals 56 votes – yet after both the 2008 and 2010 elections there were discrepancies. Two vacancies should equal two votes and not three votes, as has certainly happened in the past.
There is only one fair process and that is by way of secret ballot with the conseillers writing down on voting slips a number of names not exceeding the number of vacancies. These are then collected, scrutinised and counted in a system that is not open to abuse.
In the meantime, the electorate await the manifestoes or election statements from those candidates who choose to send them out. I know it’s a bit of a forlorn hope, but it would be nice if this election was fought on policies rather than personalities. However, given what I am told has already appeared on social networking websites (I wouldn’t know how to access one), I am not holding my breath.
These Neanderthal refugees from Charles Darwin’s waiting room – from both sides of the political divide that exists here – really ought to be ashamed of their petty name calling, not to mention personal insults. At a time when Sark is in desperate need of clear policies to see this community through some difficult and often unpleasant times, elections and what goes with them should at least be civilised.
A last word for now about the election. It is more than four years since the main provisions of the Reform Law were enacted and we still do not have any machinery for a postal vote. Less than 48 hours before the polls open, I have a medical appointment away from Sark that I must keep. I hope I can get back here in time but, thanks to a legislature that has spent much of the last four years enacting legislation to stop people doing things, if I don’t then I lose my right to vote.
On a much brighter note and despite some appalling weather, the annual Christmas sale and lunch in aid of the Professor Saint Medical Trust was held at the Island Hall last Saturday and raised a few pounds short of £1,000.
The lunch was attended by more than 40 Sark residents and featured traditional Christmas food. Coming hard on the heels of the Cheque Presentation Night and what seem to be ever-increasing requests for charitable donations, the £965 to help subsidise the cost of prescribed medication was a superb sum in what for many are difficult times indeed.
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