Jersey to vote for parliamentary reform

Jersey is to vote in a referendum on 24 April on the future make-up of the island’s parliament, known as the States.

The voters will have three choices on the ballot paper.

The first proposal would divide the island into six large electoral districts instead of the present 12 parish-based electoral areas. Each district would elect seven deputies, making a total of 42 deputies in the States. Under this proposal the present position of senator would be abolished, and the 12 constables of each parish would no longer sit in the States by right of office.

Under the second proposal the island would be divided into the same six constituencies but each district would have five deputies, plus 12 constables who would sit as members of the States as they do now. Under this scenario there would also be 42 members of the States.

The third proposal offers voters the choice to leave the present system virtually untouched. This allows for 49 States members made up of eight senators, 29 deputies and 12 constables.

All residents aged 16 and over are eligible to vote. Voters can make two choices, their first and second preference. If no proposal wins over half the votes then the votes for the proposal that gained the least votes will be divided between the other two, according to the second preference marked by voters on their ballot papers.

The reforms are the outcome of recommendations put forward by the island’s electoral commission last year. The commission was asked to address several concerns: that under the present system there are too many States members; that the three categories of members (senators, deputies and constables) are unnecessary and confusing for voters; that the 12 parish-based constituencies no longer represent the make up of the island population. An additional concern was low voter turnout at elections.

For further details see the referendum website.