You need to feel confident that you understand the rules about campaign spending before you submit your nomination. If you are found to have deliberately broken the rules, there are serious penalties in the law – you could face a hefty fine, and you could even lose your seat. So you need to know what’s expected of you.
Please bear in mind that Guernsey has its own laws which govern how elections are carried out. So if you’ve been involved in politics in another country before, please don’t assume that it’s the same here.
The best place to start is the official candidates’ guide on the Election website. Pages 12 to 18 explain the rules about Election spending.
Remember, every candidate will need to submit a statement of Election expenses at the end of the campaign period, whether you have been elected or not.
This means you need to keep track of the cost of everything you use as part of your campaign, and keep hold of receipts to prove it. It is much better to do this as you go along than to try and pull everything together at the end.
Part of the reason it’s important to keep track of expenses is because there is an upper limit on how much you can spend. For ordinary candidates, that limit is £6,000 (if you’ve got it!). The rules are more complex if you are a member of a party – again, please refer to the official guide to get it right.
You should remember that things have a value, even if you don’t pay for them! Our laws refer to this as “money’s worth”. You might not actually hand over cash for some of the things you use for your election campaign, but you need to account for them in your expenses as if you had paid for them.
If someone wants to help you out with election expenses, you need to check the rules on donations – some kinds of donation aren’t allowed, and you will need to refuse or return them. Other kinds need to be declared, so that your Election finances are transparent.
Finally, the States provides some assistance with election expenses. You are entitled to a two-page manifesto in the combined manifesto booklet (which will be delivered to all registered households); a three-minute video; and a dedicated candidate page on the Election website. You are also entitled to reclaim a grant of up to £500 towards your election expenses – but bear in mind that you can only do this at the end of the process. This assistance is available to all candidates, regardless of whether or not you are elected.
These are some key points you might want to think about when planning your Election spending, but they are only part of the story. I would stress, again, that you need to read the official guidance. If you think anything I have said here conflicts with the guidance, then – obviously – trust the guidance! (And please let me know, so I can make a correction. I don’t want to mislead anyone.)
If you have read the guidance (and the laws – especially the Reform Law and the Electoral Expenditure Ordinance) and you are still unsure about something, your first port of call should be the Elections team. If you can’t find the answer on the Elections website, then get in touch with them, and I am sure they will do their best to help.