Green campaigners invite students to sign over their votes

Posted On 16 Apr 2015 at 3:58 pm

A row has broken out over student votes after a Green campaign group started handing out proxy voting forms on Falmer campus.

The campaign to re-elect Green MP Caroline Lucas to Brighton Pavilion will be analysed via social media

The campaign to re-elect Green MP Caroline Lucas to Brighton Pavilion will be analysed via social media

The Students for Caroline campaign for the party’s Brighton Pavilion candidate Caroline Lucas is offering University of Sussex students the chance to sign proxy voting forms already filled in with the details of Green Party supporters.

The supporters would then be able to vote on students’ behalf in the national and local elections on May 7, when most will be back at home.

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The group held a stall on campus last Friday, and also has a Facebook group which invites people to use proxy votes if they’re not going to be in Brighton next month.

But the move was slammed by the local Labour party, which says proxy votes are intended to given to people they know and trust, not a stranger on a stall.

And it is concerned the proxy votes will be used in the local elections, which students are traditionally not as interested in, as well as the national.

Tracey Hill, Labour local candidate for Hollingdean and Stanmer ward, which includes the Falmer campus, said that while the practice didn’t break election law, it was highly inappropriate.

She said: “Students are being asked to give their votes to someone they don’t know and have never met. That doesn’t sound right.

“What if the student changes their mind later? They wouldn’t be able to contact their proxy to let them know.”

Caroline Penn, Labour local candidate for the same ward, said: “It has been widely reported that the number of young people registering to vote has fallen significantly since the introduction of the new voter registration rules were introduced.

“However, this seems to be taking things too far.”

And Michael Inkpin-Leissner, also a Labour candidate for the ward, said: “People often vote differently in local elections from general elections.

“But with these pre-filled forms, students are signing away their right to vote in local elections too, without even being able to discuss or communicate with their proxy about how to vote.”

However, a spokeswoman for Students for Caroline said proxy voting was a good solution for those who can’t vote in person or by post.

She said: “Many students are extremely keen to make sure their voice is counted on May 7, and so some, who know they won’t be able to vote in person or by post because of holiday and postal vote timings, are asking instead for a proxy vote.

“Ideally, we hope as many students as possible will be able to vote in person or by post. But where that just won’t be an option for them, proxy voting is a well-recognised solution they’re able to choose if they’d like.

“It’s obviously all led by them – we just make them aware of all the options available, which I think most people would agree is the right thing to do, and we’ve had students approach us directly to request a proxy vote themselves.

“We follow a code of practice which adheres to official Electoral Commission guidance and we check our campaigners are familiar with it.

“We have checked with town hall electoral services to ensure our student voter campaign operates within all election regulations.”

So far, 188 people have registered with Brighton and Hove City Council for a proxy vote.

  1. Alan B Reply

    Desperate, desperate Greens.

    Roll-on May….

    • pistolboy Reply

      You are not wrong there. God, I hope they go.

  2. Jas Reply

    Countng the days!

  3. Hjarrs Reply

    Bit of sour grapes on the part of the Labour Party. They used to take student votes for granted.

    • Peter B. Reply

      But what do you think about the issue?

    • Rhian Jones Reply

      I note that the leader of your Welsh Green Party, Pippa Bartolotti, has yet AGAIN put her foot in it.

      In the South Wales Evening Post, she has claimed that (quote) “It’s always older people who vote UKIP, because older people tend to be racist”

      Yet again the incapable and incompetent Greens showing how truly unfit they are to hold any type of political responsibility.

      Roll on May!

  4. Peter B. Reply

    When the voter signs the form they are signing to say that they have asked the proxy to vote for them. How can this be true when the form is pre-signed by a Green Party member? They are inviting the voters to take part in a deceit.

  5. Gerald Wiley Reply

    Good luck to the greens and Brighton Pavilion – if this is what they have to resort to try to keep their only MP in parliament then it is just up to the rest of the income-tax and council-tax paying residents to make sure they do vote.

    It is all very well the students being promised the removal of tuition fees and various anti-capitalist changes, but the greens are such an insignificant part of parliament, meaning that all that Caroline can really do is just continue to raise private member’s bills for her favourite feminist and pro-drug causes whilst wanting to form alliances with the SNP and Plaid Cymru to have more influence.

    The green party manifesto is just a list of ill-costed ideological plans from a varied group of dreaming activists who realistically have no chance of getting the policies accepted, so they are really just wasting votes versus deciding who would be the best party to run Britain.

    At least this only affect parliamentary seat – for the council, hopefully the student vote is so thinly spread across the rest of the city and based upon the utter pigs ear they have made of leading the council, that they will no longer be an issue after May 7.

  6. Sue Reply

    I’ve seen this proxy vote stall in action on several occasions. I’m not sure all the people in Students for Caroline touting for signatures are even students! This seems like a very dubious way to trawl for votes when a postal vote is available. I’d be interested to hear what Caroline Lucas herself thinks of naive young people signing possibly their first ever vote over to a stranger

  7. jqmark Reply

    labour encourage people to sign up for postal voting so i think they protest a bit to much, i doubt that this is going to make that much difference given the low numbers and it is patronising to the students to think that they have not thought it through, i suspect you would nt nominate a proxy unless you had made your mind up and proxy votes are not forever they are just for this election.

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  9. Adam Sheldon Reply

    Proxy voting has often been suggested in the past, at various universities, to students who will not be resident when an election takes place, by Labour, LD and Conservative student groups. Although a postal vote would be just as good, the parties have no guarantee the student will remember to send it off, and so they prefer proxying. It’s a perfectly legitimate tactic: just as much as the Conservatives ferrying a constant stream of elderly people to the polls in cars bearing their candidate’s name, which I’ve often seen as a teller. Let’s give students credit for knowing that if they sign up at a stall covered in Green posters, they are giving their vote to that party. I’m usually a Labour supporter, but I do wish my party would stop trying to do down Caroline Lucas, whose hard work and sincerity puts most politicians to shame.

    • Gerald Wiley Reply

      I see that the Electoral Commission has told the Greens to stop their proxy votes campaign on university campus.

      “Our non-statutory code of conduct says voters should not be encouraged to appoint a campaigner as a proxy to minimise the risk of suspicions that campaigners are placing undue pressure on voters.

      “We have been in contact with the Green Party to make clear that this is not acceptable campaigning behaviour.

      “They have now stopped these activities and we will continue monitoring to make sure there is no repeat.”

      See https://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2015/04/27/election-watchdog-tells-greens-to-stop-proxy-votes-campaign-on-university-campus/39403

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