A PETITION to ensure that no second home owners can vote in next year’s Welsh Election is falling short of the numbers required for a public debate.
With only a few days to go until the December 11th deadline, the petition arranged by the ‘Gorau i Gymru’ (Best for Wales) group has reached 4,500 signatures.
Which is well short of the new 10,000 signature threshold recently introduced for a debate at the Senedd.
The petition seeks to ensure that voters can only cast their vote at their primary addresses next year, with systemic checks put in place to safeguard this practice.
It has arisen following concerns that second home owners are casting their vote both at their primary address and then at their second home address as well.
‘We do not believe that the fact that electoral fraud is illegal in itself, provides sufficient safeguards, if no systemic checks are made’ say the petitioners.
‘This is akin to having speeding laws in place, but no traffic cameras’.
They add that this provides serious potential for fraud to take place, which could also have a bearing on the results in various Welsh constituencies with heavy second home ownership.
They want the issue to be immediately addressed before the 2021 election.
A spokesperson for Gwlad said it was very odd that the petition was stuck at under 5,000 signatures, in view of all the publicity concerning the second homes problem in Wales over the past months.
‘When you consider for example, that Yes Cymru have now over 15,000 members who have signed up for an independent and transparent Wales – it’ s very surprising that this petition is struggling to get the traction it needs’ he said.
‘Surely the principle of one person, one vote is a fundamental democratic practice that should be supported widely’.
He added that the onus would be on individual counties to monitor their electoral roll properly in this regard, and it should not be beyond the wit of local councils to be able to do this.
‘Perhaps the actual numbers who do vote twice is quite low, but it’s the principle itself of voter integrity which is important here’.
‘It would also send a clear signal that we want to see transparency and honesty in our Welsh election process’.
He urged as many people as possible to sign the petition over the next few days before the December 11th deadline.
A wider issue which has also emerged is the new 10,000 signatures threshold introduced by the Senedd.
It’s not a good look to insist that people who have genuine concerns about public issues, who want these debated by our elected representatives, now have to find double the signatures previously required.
Finding 5,000 signatures for any cause is hard enough as Gorau i Gymru are now finding out.
It almost makes you think that our governing class are trying to make it harder still for people to secure a meaningful debate on public matters in Wales.
Not much of an advert for democratic engagement.