Editorial for 19 February: Maybe they’ll listen, act now

North Side Member of the Legislative Assembly Ezzard Miller
has the right to sit back and say “I told you so”.

When the 2009 Constitution was being debated, Mr. Miller
said he believed the order mandates the “one man, one vote” principle because
of the wording in Constitution Order 2009 Section 92(1).

It says, “Any person who is registered as an elector in an
electoral district shall, while so registered, be entitled to vote at any
election in that district for an elected member of the Legislative Assembly
…”

Turns out, he was more right than wrong.

While Attorney General Sam Bulgin doesn’t believe the term
“an elected member” means voters can vote for only one candidate, he’s not
taking any chances.

He’s told lawmakers they’ll have to make a constitutional
change to ensure the upcoming elections in May are legally valid.

While he’s sure the wording in that section could survive
any legal challenge, such a test in the court would be time consuming and
expensive.

It’s better, he says, to be proactive and fix the wording
before the election.

What Mr. Bulgin surmises happened is that in all of the back
and forth bantering about the Constitution and once it was decided by lawmakers
not to pursue “one man, one vote”, that section of the document was overlooked.

It’s good to see government being proactive instead of
reactionary for a change. This means that lawmakers will have to meet again
before the Legislative Assembly is dissolved on 26 March, the day before
nomination day, to work out amending the Constitution. They’ve only got a
matter of weeks to address this matter.

If not, it’s a pretty sure bet that someone will raise a
ruckus about the wording in Section 92(1) and force the government to spend thousands
of dollars of money it doesn’t have at its discretion fighting in court.

It will be interesting to see how serious the
current people in the Legislative Assembly take this issue. They didn’t listen
to Mr. Miller; maybe now they’ll listen to Mr. Bulgin.

 

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