Monday, 19 September 2011

Pre-abstention begins - ai vida!

Pre polling began today at St Paul’s Gate, New Street to a fanfare of …..nothing. Far from there being vast queues waiting for the doors to open enabling them to exercise their democratic right, there was only one person - Senatorial candidate Darius Pearce and a “friend” (can I have her telephone number – for political science research purposes only of course?).

There was no CTV, Radio 103, BBC Radio Jersey or JEP photographer to record the historic moment when nothing happened. There wasn’t even a sign outside saying “open for business”.

Darius quipped that he, at 10.15 am had “an early lead” (by two votes presumably). His friend advised us that she had voted in her Deputy election for “none of the above” and thus effectively spoiling her vote. Fortunately she does not live in District No.1 St Helier (I did ascertain that much at least)

Confused first time voters

In an earlier blog I mentioned that three ladies would be conveyed to the pre polling this morning to cast the first ever vote in their lives. In the end two joined me on journey and both come from the Jersey Portuguese community.

Duly briefed that they would be well advised to vote for a very nice man called LE CORNU who would be fighting in the States against all forms of discrimination and the interest of single mums, they entered St Paul’s Gate to cast their vote.

They came back confused. They had been handed a white ballot slip which did not have the name LE CORNU written on it. They had also received a yellow ballot which fortunately did have the name LE CORNU written on it and they had duly put a small cross in the box next to this man’s name.

So, what was the white ballot? It was the ballot for the Senatorial election; that for Deputy in St Helier No.1 is yellow. However, neither were aware that there was a Senatorial election occurring. The question arises how did they get given the Senatorial ballot for an election of which they knew nothing?

Confused? They certainly were and did not know what on earth to do with the white ballot. Since it did not contain the name LE CORNU what were they supposed to do? Well, it appears the staff told them they could vote for up to three candidates in the Deputy election and up to four candidates in the Senatorial election. They duly voted in the Senatorials, an election of which they knew nothing and whose candidates were equally unknown.

Under pressure of the circumstances, of authority and subordination, these ladies felt compelled to cast their vote. For whom did they vote you ask? One voted for the third one up from the bottom – Mr Richardson, and the other put four crosses in the boxes against names she did not know and cannot remember.

Having driven the ladies home, I returned to Town to discuss the matter with the Assistant Judicial Greffier. The votes stand apparently. Perhaps if there is a tie between candidates the issue could be re-examined?

That said, I trust that there are now new rules in place that ……

There are those who say none of this matters. Perhaps it’s the feral Lawyer in me that thinks something is not quite right. Then maybe I am wrong.

Working people spend their lives being lied to, cheated and exploited and perhaps its no different when they go to vote. These women were abused and conjolled into voting into something they knew nothing about. I had won their confidence sufficiently that they were prepared to support me. It was very fragile and at any moment they could have said no I do not wish to vote. One word misspoken and the ice thin veneer of respect and trust could have been lost. Oh how our rulers abuse us! Why do I feel they were done a great injustice; why do others have such difficulty seeing this? Why is inertia the default postion. Can those that are exploited not see that their salvation lies in their own hands. That is freedom.

I will be watching, I will be waiting, I will be probing, just as are they.

Perhaps this is all a pious hope. The majority, in fact 75% of the registered voters, or 6000 people, in No.1 St Helier know that the whole thing is charade. Nothing changes. Pre-abstention has begun – 19 more days left.

If you want to cry in despair – don’t  - listen to some fado and enjoy.


  1. oh do come down from that public school high ground Nick. How many decisions in life are really made upon the basis of knowledge and analysis? Pregnancy? Shopping choices? Banking policies? Ozouf on property values? Grand National winners?
    Thank god we are not all lawyers seeking the certainty of precedence or statute before we leap into the democratic abyss. Your lovely wife must have chosen you for some reason I suppose - but it was not a decision based upon scientific analysis surely. What did she say about your latest portrait?

    The electorate will hardly vote for your policies following serious scrutiny and discussion around the tumble drier? Its all about guesswork and instant image.

    But have you considered the dressed up as a cuddly creature option yet? A fluffy yellow duckling might be worth a try and you could keep your extra large posters on the roundabout outside Ozo House. Just leave the Senators to fight their own corners - you are doing all right in District 1 - keep plugging away!!!

  2. Hee Hee, nothing changes does it! :)

  3. Lets remember its pessimism of the mind and optimism of the will.

    More doors to knock; more trust to build; more people to inspire; more votes to win; more and still more. At the point of fatigue it is the one that can summon the energy to knock again that may succeed.

    Indignation is the motivation.

    To the victor the spoils!

  4. "A man truly himself enriches his own interests, [and] makes a virtue of poverty. He goes his way without depending on others...yet is not arrogant that he needs no one. True virtue remains unknown. The greatest man is...nobody."

  5. As No1 says Nick, keep plugging away, you ARE doing alright in St. Helier No. 1