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Looking at vote buying

The campaign trail is waxing warm as the May 24 polls draw nearer.
And Election Supervisor Wesley Howell is urging a clean campaign, stressing the law is clear on vote buying and the penalties that go with it.
“To not be induced and not participate in voter fraud,” Elections supervisor Wesley Howell says, reminding voters of their obligations heading into the May 24 polls.

Last week red flags were raised over ticket giveaways to the Island Rumble event, but vote buying is clearly defined in the law.

“(It is) the giving of a gift for the express reason of inducing someone to vote in a particular way is vote buying which is something that the police would investigate and the anti-corruption commission as well,” Mr Howell explained.

Under the law candidates are required to record their spending between Nomination Day. Things like treating supporters to expensive meals should not be done, but it’s not just the candidates’ responsibility.

“If you accept gifts or funds on behalf of you voting a particular way that is also illegal punishable with a fine and imprisonment as well,” Mr Howell says.

While he says the definition of vote buying is clear, what’s not clear is what genuinely constitutes assisting a person in need.

“What we have is a lack of clarity around what is assistance to somebody in need or gift as opposed to vote buying,” Mr Howell adds.

He’s urging both candidates and the public to know the law and abide by it. Mr Howell says the Election Office has a handbook for candidates on their responsibilities and police will be working with the office to investigate election breaches and reports of voter fraud.

About the author

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath is a Trinidadian journalist with 16 years media experience with a strong background in print with her most recent stint at The Cayman Reporter. She has a BA in Mass Communications, as well as, an Associate degree in Journalism and Public Relations.

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