More St Helier residents encouraged to vote in Jersey's election

  • Video report by ITV Channel's Louisa Britton

There are calls for greater voter engagement in St Helier, where traditionally fewer islanders turn out on election day. 

At the last election in 2018, turnout across the island was poor, but St Helier's parishioners were the least likely to vote with fewer than half going to the polls.

St Helier's Constable, Simon Crowcroft, said: "I think there's always been a challenge to get people registered in St Helier, and that's partly because there's a lot of churn as people move in and out of the parish. A lot of people who are working temporarily will be in St Helier and are not that interested in the vote."

Many believe low turnout at Jersey's elections is also down to islanders thinking their votes won't achieve change.

Campaigner Jennifer Bridge, said: "If you are on a minimum wage and perhaps even living in substandard accommodation, and you keep seeing the States debate and reject raising the minimum wage or rejecting anything that's going to make your accommodation better.

"I think you're going to start to feel that the States members are not really there for you."

  • Jennifer Bridge, Campaigner

A report compiled after the 2018 election found that approximately 50% of the population of St Helier were registered voters, compared to the island's rural parishes where that number jumped to 80%.

The reasons are numerous but in the rural parishes, often more affluent, there's traditionally greater engagement on key issues such as development.

Former Jersey Deputy, Roy Le Herissier, said:  "There's been a tradition through the parish system of involvement in politics, and I think it reflects more the Jersey conservative approach to life.

"People are very keen to keep that fairly unhindered and unmolested."

  • Former Jersey Deputy, Roy Le Herissier

Jersey's countryside is less densely populated, and the parish boundaries have been criticised for not equally dividing the island into proportionate electoral seats. But that's changing, with new electoral districts designed to create a more equal footing.   

Simon Crowcroft said: "One of the big successes about the electoral reforms that we have this year is that St Helier will have more seats, will have 13 deputy seats instead of ten plus the council seats.

"Technically, we should have 16 if it's going to be absolutely fair, but we certainly are moving forward and I think there's a real opportunity."

Roy Le Herissier said:  "I think what might happen is that Reform Jersey might consolidate its voting power in the town, but I'm not sure it will extend much beyond the town. It may extend into places like St Clement and St Saviour, in other words, the urbanized parishes."