Fringe Box



The Dragon Says: Depriving Shalford Voters A Full Choice Is A Serious Matter

Published on: 13 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 14 Apr, 2013

Dragon Roar Still 470It is a natural reaction when something goes wrong to look for someone to blame. The ancient Greeks, when suffering a disaster, would cast out of their community some hapless beggar or criminal to rid themselves of the sins they felt had brought the trouble on them.

Scapegoating* is still rife. Today we have the blame culture. If we can pin the mistake on someone and make them suffer it might seem that justice has been done. Sometimes that can be the case but it does not necessarily fix the problem.

Because of an admitted error by an election agent, obviously unintentional, voters in the Shalford division will be unable to vote for a candidate who was prepared to stand, a candidate who by all accounts had represented the people of Shalford conscientiously and well.

Cllr Simon Gimson

Cllr Simon Gimson

Expressions of sympathy have, rightly and commendably, been offered from across the political spectrum. Simon Gimson the candidate affected, has remained quietly dignified. He is appreciative of the messages he has received. Events such as this can sometimes provoke appreciation of service that is not given enough.

Many have pointed out that the main issue is that democracy itself suffers when the voters choice is limited in this way. They are right. A freedom to vote in a way many would probably want to is being denied, and that is serious. It is a bad business all round.

But, and it is a big but, it would be all too easy to blame just the agent or other individuals. Who can put their hand on their heart and say they have never made a mistake, never incorrectly filled in a form, missed a deadline or misunderstood an instruction. Fallibility is part of the human condition.

Systems should be designed to make it, as far as possible, easy to do the correct thing and reach the right conclusion. How many of you reading this have felt at times enraged by over complicated processes that make, what should be, a straightforward tasks seem difficult or almost impossible.

Opinion Logo 2Nominating a candidate in a local election should be straightforward. We are not told how much corruption is prevented by the checks carried out but one might imagine that the risks of improper nominations being made is fairly low, a much bigger problem appears to be finding candidates prepared to stand in the first place.

In fact, representatives from several parties have told The Guildford Dragon NEWS that the nomination process is not simple and getting ever more complicated.  Some volunteer election agents dread the task. There are at least three forms to complete, some of which need counter signatures from properly qualified nominations and seconders (and these have to be found before the paperwork can even begin).

When a range of candidates are standing problems are multiplied and the clock is constantly counting down towards the deadline.

One might be tempted to say, ‘Well if candidates and agents can’t organise this should they really be standing?’  Perhaps not but do we really want to leave our democratic choice subject to the kind of human error that has occurred here?

The Dragon says, let someone review the process, rationalise any paperwork or perhaps, now that we are in the 21st century, take it online. It should not be an obstacle course.

Make it easy to do the right thing, incorporate the necessary checks, and make the whole thing transparent so that political parties and individuals can easily check what nominations have been submitted and whether they have been accepted.

Of course, such a review cannot be done in one council or county in isolation. The systems are national systems but our local authorities should use Shalford as a case in point to press for a change. Simon Gimson and more importantly the voters of Shalford deserve nothing less.

See also: Shalford Conservative President ‘Absolutely Livid’ over Nomination ‘Fiasco’

 *Ancient Jews would drive a goat, supposed to be carrying their guilt, into the wilderness.

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