The Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30, 1890. THE "HOUSEHOLDER" QUESTION.
This year, fortunately, the Borough School Committee election passed off without a hitch—a very different state of things to that which was witnessed last year, when the election was twice upset, on the first occasion because seven householders nominated '■ were declared elected without a ballo! '■ ■ ing been taken, and on the ■■■ ■'. because, on appeal, the Education Board ruled that parents of children attending the school were not entitled to vote sinless themselves resident within the school district. This was contrary to the ruling of the Chairman, but the Board is the final arbiter, and consequently a third election i had to be held. We said, however, at the time, that we supported the ruling of the Chairman, and dissented from the finding of the Board, and, moreover, are confident that, had it been thought worth while to take the matter into the Supreme Court, the decision would have gone against the ruling of the latter. It was not thought worth while, however, to do this; and a very good Committee having been elected, the work has been, during the year, carried on quite satisfactorily. Still it is of interest to • obtain ' any light possible on the qucestio vexata as to who are the persons really entitled to vote, under the clumsy definition of " householder " provided in the present Act, and we notice that the "Dunedin Evening Star " —whose editor, being Secretary of the Dunedin, and Suburban Schools Conference, •is no mean authority—says "It . . . . behoves those responsible for the conduct of the elections to see that the spirit and intention of the Education Act in this respect are complied with. There may possibly be a disposition in some quarters to limit the exercise of }he franchise ; but if such be attempted it will be illegal, and will render any election voidable. We have shown over and over again that, though the subsection of section 4 which defines the meaning of the term "householder" is clumsily drawn, there- can be no doubt as to the intention of the Legislature ; and the view we have uniformly held has been supported by legal authorities and by more than one Education Board on Appeal. TKe words of the section ai'e :— 'Householder' means every adult male or female person who, as owner or tenant, lessee or occupier, occupies, uses, or resides in any dwelling-house, shop, warehouse, or other building in any district, or every parent or guardian who is liable to maintain, or has the actual custody of, any child. , " It has been frequently decided that under this section not only the o wncv, tenant, lessee, or occupier of any premises within the school district, but the parent, guardian, or custodian of every child attending the school, can vote for the Committee. There; are two classes of voters, and the question of residence affects only the former class. The error into which many people fall is imagining that the words of limitation imported. into clause 58 apply to, the subsection of clause 4. To be eligible for a seat on the Committee the candidate must be a ' resident within the school district'; but the voter who claims as the ' paxent,' 'guardian/ or custodian of a scuolar in attendance can cast his ballot even 1 though he lives fifty or a hundred miles from the schcolhouse. Major Steward has for years attempted in vain to remove this and other anomalies in tho Act, find in tl.f> approaching session he will return to the charge in the hope that the ' grave seigneurs' of the Upper.House will this time listen to reason. If his School Committees Election Bill passes into law c householder' will in future mean ; — Every adult male or female person who (being the owner, lessee, or tenant) resides in any dwellinghouse within the school district, and the parent, or guardian, or other person, who has the actual custody of any child attend big any State school ■■situated tvitliin such district^ There are other desirable amendments contemplated by the Bill, which we shall refer to in detail on another occasion."