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Parliamentary Registrar issues warning about proper voting procedure

Statement comes after ChildWatch calls for write-in campaign

By Derek deChabert and Owain Johnston-Barnes

The Royal Gazette, ChildWatch requested that voters, particularly parents who have no or limited contact with their children, to hand write “Shared Parenting” on their ballots rather than selecting a candidate.

A charity has called on the public to vote for “Shared Parenting” in the coming election.

But the Parliamentary Registrar warns that voters who do so risk voiding their ballots.

In an advertisement appearing in Friday’s edition of

The advertisement reads: “If you are a parent or a family member who has no or minimal contact with your children or children of the family, or has no access to school, medical or any information pertaining to your children or children of the family, then vote for Shared Parenting in your ballot paper.”

The ad also states that shared parenting has been shown to give children higher self esteem and fewer behavioural problems.

Following the advertisement’s publication, Parliamentary Registrar Randy Scott warned voters they should mark their ballot papers correctly or risk their vote not being counted.

“The instructions to voters are very clear on the ballot,” Mr Scott said. “Writing your name or anything else on it which does not give a clear indication or intent for whom you wish to vote will render the ballot spoiled and it will not be counted.

“If the returning officer cannot determine a clear intent of the voter, the ballot will be spoiled. Therefore, voters are discouraged from making any other marks or notes on their ballot.”

Speaking yesterday, a spokesman for ChildWatch said the charity didn’t realise at the time of the advertisement’s publication that adding “Shared Parenting” to the ballots could potentially spoil them.

“We were just looking for candidates that would support ‘Shared Parenting’ as it is beneficial for our children’s outcomes,” the spokesman said. “We know that a few MP’s do support ‘Shared Parenting’ and some have stated in The House of Assembly that they went through similar situations.

“We wish all candidates the best. However, we feel more MP’s should support shared parenting if we want to change our children’s outcomes.”

Asked if they still believed voters should write in a vote for Shared Parenting, the spokesman said: “We feel that people should do whatever is in their hearts to do.

“We further know that many parents and their families are frustrated with the system that is in place, and some may abstain from voting or may void their ballots.

“The intent of the ChildWatch promotion for the Shared Parenting ad as placed in

The Royal Gazette was to bring awareness that we are searching for candidates who support — in a meaningful way — the concept of Shared Parenting.”

A government spokesperson said they wouldn’t comment on the specific advertisement, saying: “There are others who have made similar suggestions to do things of this nature, but we are not going to come out and criticise the ad. It is free speech.”

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Published December 03, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated December 02, 2012 at 10:43 pm)

Parliamentary Registrar issues warning about proper voting procedure

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