With just under three weeks until the by-election for the Richmond Hill and Cheshire Hall constituency in Providenciales on March 22, 2013, Supervisor of Elections Dudley Lewis has reminded candidates that under the Election Ordinance they are NOT allowed to offer inducements to electors to influence their voting intention.
This means that, during political rallies, meetings or general campaigning, candidates, political parties or anyone associated with them are not permitted to provide food, drink, gifts of any kind or cash, as these could interpreted as an attempt to corruptly influence a voter in the way they cast their vote at the by-election.
This behaviour is known as ‘treating’ and is illegal. It has been illegal for many years, although in past elections some people have chosen to ignore it. Such behaviour is no longer being ignored. The person offering this kind of inducement is committing a serious criminal offence and so is any member of the public who accepts a gift or cash.
The supervisor of elections has warned that he will follow up on all reports received and will not hesitate to collaborate with the police to initiate criminal investigation. Lewis also invited members of the public to inform him if they are aware of any incident involving voter inducements. He also pointed out that inexpensive tee shirts, caps and advertising materials provided by political parties and candidates are not regarded as treating.
Lewis explained: “I have been satisfied that campaigning up to the present time has been overwhelmingly free and fair. By issuing this announcement I wish to ensure any tendency to cut corners and disregard election law is avoided during the intensive final days of campaigning.”
Leaders of political parties and candidates are reminded of their obligation to continue to ensure their campaigns remain within the law.
A fair election, untainted by any hint of corrupt practices, is in the best interest of the voters of Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill and citizens of the Turks and Caicos Islands.