The integrity of the count in the District No.1 election was confirmed today following a recount. An application by Deputy Paul Le Claire before the Royal Court this morning was granted after lunch at 2.30pm with the recount conducted immediately thereafter in the Town Hall.
The Court heard representations from Deputy Le Claire, the Attorney General and the candidates. I suspect that what made the difference was an Affidavit I prepared setting out a number of anomalies and perceived sloppiness on the part of counters on the night. My arguments added flesh and muscle to give Deputy Le Claire’s application some substance. I suspect that without my observations there would not have been sufficient “grounds” for a recount. There is no automatic right to a recount by a candidate or other party under the Jersey law. It remains in the discretion of the Autorise/Jurat conducting the count on the night. The Royal Court gave its decision today with written reasons to follow in due course.
One likely reform that will come out of the Application will be in the way the result of the vote is announced. This will probably change to follow the UK model whereby the Returning Officer discloses the result in private to the candidates, enabling them to raise queries or request a recount, before a formal public announcement. This was the only issue of real substance in support of Deputy Le Claire's action. He claimed the result had come as a complete shock to him, given that he had topped the poll in two previous elections, he did not have the presence of mind to request a recount. The margin of difference between Deputy Le Claire and Deputy Judy Martin was 17 votes.
Needless to say, Deputy Martin is much relieved by the final outcome and as he embarks on a new career, Paul Le Claire will not have to live with the thought “What if I had never asked?”
Below is an interview I conducted once it was clear the result of the election would be unchanged.