The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. MONDAY JULY 1, 1889. ELECTORAL REFORM.
If multitude of actß will make the law relating to Parliamentary elections clear and free from anomalies .and injustice, these ends should beattained m thepresent session for Government have prepared no fewer than four separate Bills dealing with the various phases of the subject. One of these, however, will be held m reserve, and will be introduced only m the event of the rejection of the Representation Bill, which provides for the Hare system of polling, under which each elector will have one vote only , no matter m how many districts he may have qualifications, and for the quota of representation of country districts. The reserve Bill provides for the regulation of elections under the present system of polling, with reforms m various details, with the view to improved fairness, secrecy and efficiency. 'X,he registration of Electors Bill will make provision for a more efficient system of electoral registration than exists at present. Instead of its being competent for any electioneering agent to bring m bundles of olaiinß on the eve of an election when there is no time to investigate their soundness thoroughly, every applicant for registration will have to appear m person and substantiate his claim, when he will take out an electoral right (paying a fee of one shilling), and this right alone will constitute his, proof of qualification to vote, A reform of the present system is urgently needed, but we doubt whether the proposals of the Bill will be generally approved, a simple mode of purging the electoral rolls has been suggested, namely, by striking off the rolls after every election the names of those who did not exercise their franchise, leaving it to those thus disfranchised and any other qualified persons to establish their claims to be put upon the new rolls. Personal attendance before the registrar should be enforced on y in the case of opposed or questioned claims ; and the proposal to charge a fee of one shilling for registration of a right to vote is unjust to the poorer voters, and bad no chance of passing into law. Such a proposal is quite contrary to the democratic principles which the proposed reforms profess to promote. Jhe Corrupt Practices Bill will contain provisions against corrupt practices, even more stringent than those at present existing. One feature of particular interest to country districts, where many voters have to travel long distances to the poll, will be the absolute prohibition of any lending of private carriages or other vehicles, even though there be no money consideration. The owner of a private carriage may take a friend with him m his carriage to the poll, but may not lend it for the conveyance of voters generally, under a heavy penalty. Taken altogether the Government electoral Bills, if they are not being, as has been suggested, introduced for the purpose of providing discussion, at any rate furnish a considerable supply of debatable matter, and we shall be muoh surprised if any of them pass without material amendment.
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