Earl Henry has been elected to St Helena’s Legislative Council in a by-election held on 13 June 2012, following the resignation of Michael “Newpence” Benjamin.
Results were: Earl Hilton Henry 155 votes, Eric Walter George 70 & Lionel George Williams 40. Altogether 265 votes cast, from an electorate of 1,232 registered voters: 127 from St Pauls, 33 from Blue Hill, 32 from Sandy Bay and 73 from Half Tree Hollow.
Vince Thompson, commentating on Saint FM radio station, said: “He got 60 per cent of the vote but without detracting in any way from Earl’s success we do have to talk about the terrible turnout which was 20 per cent.
“The question is why did 80 per cent of those who could vote not bother? They have got to think their vote will count for something.”
Only just over half the people eligible to vote were even on the electoral register – meaning the true turn-out was as low as 20 per cent.
Tony Leo, a former councillor himself, said: “From time to time the Castle says the register needs to be updated. That needs to be plugged away and parents need to make sure their children are registered.
“As people go overseas or get old they are no longer quite as interested in politics. They need younger people and there must be a way to get people on the register.
“Eighteen months from now there will be a general election and you want a higher turn out.
“I think somebody should be analysing why it is like this. I have not seen any excitement – I didn’t see any posters, anything stuck in windows, and it does help.”
Vince Thomspon, who was a councillor in the UK for 12 years, said: “My experience of elections in the UK is very different from what happens here.
“I was amazed at the lack of activity and councillors trying to involve people they wanted to vote for them. I am used to going out knocking on doors.
“I do genuinely have sympathy for councillors because they are on their own. Each councillor is on their own and they have no back-up. They can only go to officers for information and that’s their only source, so they become mouthpieces for the officers.
“People say, ‘I don’t like politics,’ but politics is everything.
“There’s got to be more differences of opinion where people respect each other’s opinion but can engage in genuine debate.
“There’s just edicts and announcements.
“I was chatting to one councillor about tinkering about with the constitution, I was talking about a chief councillor, he was talking about a chief islander.
“At the moment you have an Exco appointed by the governor. That can’t be right.”
I disagree that the by-election lacked excitement. Despite the low turnout it was still very exciting!
– Joy Lawrence, St Helena
[You] only need to win by one vote.
– Leslie Ben Thomas
People should not ignore their right to vote – otherwise they could lose it!
– Hee Young Ra