People could get fewer votes in 2025 election in Guernsey

A previous election in Guernsey
Guernsey's SMC has looked into how the system of island-wide voting worked

Guernsey's Scrutiny Management Committee (SMC) has recommended the States looks at reducing the number of votes available to each voter by the 2025 election.

The SMC has looked into how the system of island-wide voting worked.

Its report concluded there "remains significant support for the ability to vote for any candidate who stands".

It did not recommend making a change to the system of island-wide voting for the 2025 election.

Deputy Yvonne Burford
Deputy Yvonne Burford is the president of Guernsey's Scrutiny Management Committee

In the report, SMC President Deputy Yvonne Burford said: "The review panel believes that some changes could be made that would constitute improvements."

She added the report also provided a "broad evidence base for any possible future reconsideration of the electoral system locally".

A number of deputies gave their views as part of the "call for evidence" in the review including Health and Social Care Committee President Al Brouard who said: "The island-wide vote gave the public what they wanted - I am not sure it was in their best interest."

While Employment and Social Security President Peter Roffey said he "found island-wide voting both liberating and frustrating, but the latter outweighed the former."

The recommendations have been put to the States Assembly and Constitution Committee (SACC), which is responsible for the rules governing elections in Guernsey.

Deputy Carl Meerveld
Deputy Carl Meerveld campaigned for electoral change in 2018

President of SACC, Deputy Carl Meerveld said he was not in favour of lowering the number of votes: "I think restricting the number would have people saying well I wanted those extra two votes, or 10."

Mr Meerveld led the successful campaign to change Guernsey's electoral system in 2018 and commented he believed the negativity around island-wide voting is because the "the majority who liked the system probably remained silent in the survey".

He also said he believed some of those who responded to the survey may have "conflated the performance of the current assembly" with the electoral system.

Analysis from John Fernandez, BBC Guernsey Political Reporter

If you are looking for a report which says let's go back to the old system of electing politicians, or let's move to a completely new one in 2025 - then look elsewhere - this is not it.

Scrutiny instead has focussed on how the current island-wide voting system can be improved.

The evidence the committee has gathered has shown a wish for a system that does not require voters to assess "an unwieldy number of candidates" at one time, coupled with a "clear desire to be able to vote for people outside of one's district".

These are two things which are hard to marry.

Looking further than the next election, this report does provide evidence that could be used by another committee to attempt to once again change the electoral system.

The risk, according to this report, is "any reversion to a parish-based system would simply revive calls (for island-wide voting) and possibly make them even louder given that people will have had a taste of the ability to vote for any candidate".

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