Postal voting for the 2022 elections (FOI)
Postal voting for the 2022 elections (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 27 May 2021.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
In the wake of a surge in Covid-19 cases in India caused by local elections with polling booths, please can I have sight of any plans or minutes by Privileges and Procedures Committee (PPC) relating to the 2022 election allowing more postal voting for those who do not feel safe, in the current pandemic, visiting polling stations?
Also are there any plans for postal voting to be the norm for care homes, given that visits by a member of the Greffe to different care homes could potentially spread the virus?
The plans and minutes of the Privileges and Procedures Committee (PPC) are exempt from disclosure.
Disclosure of the minutes of PPC’s meetings (including those of its Sub-Committees) would be an infringement of the privileges of the States Assembly; particularly the Assembly’s right to decide its own internal procedures, including about what information to put in the public domain and the timing and manner of any such publication without interference from any outside authority. This is a fundamental protection for a democratically elected legislature and the existence of this privilege in Jersey was confirmed by the Royal Court in the case of Syvret v. Bailhache & Hamon (1998 JLR 128).
The plans of PPC relating to the elections of 2022 are exempt from disclosure because the Committee is of the view that the plans will be published within 12 weeks of the date of the request. The Sub-Committee of PPC working on these plans intends to lodge amendments to the Public Elections (Jersey) Law 2002 by 8th June 2021. At the time of lodging, the proposition containing the plans will be available on the Propositions page of the States Assembly website.
It is the intention of the Sub-Committee that these amendments will include a change to Article 39 of the 2002 Law (relating to postal voting) in order that it mirrors the provisions of Article 38 (relating to pre-poll voting): so that every voter will have the ability to use a postal vote, provided that they are on the electoral roll before the cut-off date and that they submit an application to do so. If adopted by the States Assembly, such a change would relax the current restrictions on postal voting; following a recognition by the Sub-Committee that expanding the potential use of postal voting would be sensible in the current climate.
The Sub-Committee anticipates that those resident in care homes, or who would normally apply for a home visit under Article 35 of the existing Law, will be able to apply for a postal vote as an alternative, which will reduce any associated transmission risks should Covid-19 still be prevalent in 2022.
It is still planned to operate pre-poll voting, alongside the expanded provisions for postal voting, albeit decisions may be taken as to the length of time that the pre-poll voting station is open.
Article 28 - States Assembly privileges
(1) Information is absolutely exempt information if exemption from the obligation to disclose it under this Law is required to avoid an infringement of the privileges of the States Assembly.
(2) Except as provided by paragraph (3), a certificate signed by the Greffier of the States certifying that exemption is required to avoid an infringement of the privileges of the States Assembly is conclusive evidence of that fact.
(3) A person aggrieved by the decision of the Greffier of the States to issue a certificate under paragraph (2) may appeal to the Royal Court on the grounds that the Greffier did not have reasonable grounds for issuing the certificate.
(4) The decision of the Royal Court on the appeal shall be final.
Article 36 - Information intended for future publication
(1) Information is qualified exempt information if, at the time when the request for the information is made, the information is being held by a public authority with a view to its being published within 12 weeks of the date of the request.
(2) A scheduled public authority that refuses an application for information on this ground must make reasonable efforts to inform the applicant –
(a) of the date when the information will be published;
(b) of the manner in which it will be published; and
(c) by whom it will be published.
(3) In this Article, “published” means published –
(a) by a public authority; or
(b) by any other person.
This response has been issued on behalf of the States Greffe. The States Greffe is responsible for the information held by (and on behalf of) both itself and the States Assembly. Neither the States Assembly nor the States Greffe form part of the Government of Jersey and the Government was not involved either in the examination and retrieval of any information required for this response, nor in the drafting of the response itself.