In conversation with a " Guardian " representative, Mr A. McClure, Returning Officer for the Ashburton County in the Harbour Board election, pointed ■ out several very interesting anomalies, which were also difficulties when not rightly understood, in the recent -noil. lie said the first thing to be clearly gYasped was' that no one was allowed more than one vote. There was no ambiguity in regard to this point, because the "Regulations for the Election of Members of Harbour Boards" made it quite* clear in Clause 3 that "the several electors' rolls for the districts, or portions of districts included in the combined district, shall together be the electoral roll *for the purposes of the election, provided that every elector on those rolls shall have one vote only at the election."
No doubt, he continued, this was Quito clear on the face of it, but the application of the regulation was not so easy. It allowed for the use of four rolls —those of the County, the Borough, and the Town Districts of Hanipstead and Timvald. Now, a- person such as a large property-holder, a land agent, or a public executor of estates might find himself in the position of being on two, three, or all four of these rolls, and on the County roll his name might even appear twice. .But, at the same time, in' this election he was only entitled to one. vote, apart from whatever estates or interests he might represent. As this was not perfectly understood, and some persons, assuming they were entitled so to do, had voted more than once, a very close scrutiny of votes at the recent poll had been necessary, father wise it had been a very clean election. Ratepayers irr the Countj', basing their claim on the County Act, had presumed themselves entitled to their usual number of. votes, and had insisted on exercising them in spite of the very clear instructions issued by him to deputy-returning officers.
Mr McClure said he had already re-, ferred to the. handicap under' which County voters laboured as against Borough voters, ■■ where only-the residential qualification was required, but he wished to stress a further point, which was that wives- of residents in Borough or town district might vote, whereas there was no such provision made in the case of the County, where only ratepayers, in accordance with certain capital qualifications, could vote. This made the preponderance in favour of urban districts all.the greater, and was quite out of rhyme or reason if the ouestion of just representation were raised.
Turning to the County rolls, Mr MciClure said there were a great many difficulties. The County rolls were, arranged alphabetically for each of seven ridings, and a person's name might very-easily appear in the list for two ridings or more provided he was a ratepayer in each-. This was quite clear as far as the County elections wore concerned, but for the Harbour Board elections it made difficulties, where a person might vote only once, however many ridings.his name might, be included in. Again, where partners wore enrolled it was . ruled that only the first-nanied might vote; but; said Mr McClure; who could decide ; which was first named when a bare entry, such as ' Stqne Bros., for instance.-ap-peared in the roll for the Mount' Hutt Riding. Taking the same riding, 4 there were such enrolments as Me'thven Library Company', Mefchven 'Library Committee, Methven Recreation Reservo Trustees, Methven .A. and P. Association, jVlothven Yards Company, all "per secretary," but no indication as to who was the secretary. Again, there was the bare entry Methven Hall Comnany, Ltd., with no definition at all through whom the vote should be cast. It was anomalies such as these which should cease in such a clear-cut voting issue as was presented in the 'case of the Harbour Board election.
In conclusion, Mr McClure contended that the parliamentary rolls should be used first, because each name appeared once only; second, the electoral qualifications were the sbine for town and country; and, lastly, such rolls, by the address given for voters, sufficiently defined a nerson's place of residence and ricl.it to vote. The contention that such rolls were only revised every three years was scarcely a sufficient objection, as the four rolls at present -in use were, revised every second year only, and nossiblv the revision in the ease of parliamentary rolls was more thorough on account of political and partisan interest brought to their scrutiny.
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HARBOUR BOARD, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9601, 5 May 1919
HARBOUR BOARD Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9601, 5 May 1919
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