Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 05, 2020 (RSCNPF): As citizens and residents make their way to the polls on Election Day on Friday, June 05, 2020, the public was reminded of some of the election offences during this week’s “Policing With You” Programme.
“Policing With You” airs live every Thursday at 9:15 a.m. on ZIZ Radio. On Thursday’s programme, Divisional Commander for District ‘A’, Superintendent Cromwell Henry, spoke to several restrictions and the associated penalties under the National Assembly Elections Act. Superintendent Henry first spoke on the use of loudspeakers, banners, flags and ribbons and read from the Act. He disclosed that this particular section was meant to prevent persons from influencing voters while they are at the polling station.
The Act states that, “no person shall furnish or supply any loudspeaker, bunting, ensign, banner, standard or set of colours, or any other flag, to any person with intent that it shall be carried, worn or used on motor cars, trucks or other vehicles, as political propaganda, on polling day, and no person shall, with any such intent, carry, wear or use, on motor cars, trucks or other vehicles, any such loudspeaker, bunting, ensign, banner, standard or set of colours, or any other flag, on polling day.” Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of this section shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of $10,000 or to imprisonment for six months.
Superintendent Henry then addressed the use of alcohol on polling day and said that, “no liquor shall be sold or given away at any premises in any electoral district between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.” Any person who contravenes the provisions of this section shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of $1,000 or to imprisonment for six months. He added that notwithstanding this time frame, under the current State of Emergency, Retail Liquor Licenses were still suspended.
Also included on the list of election offences is bribery the Divisional Commander added. “So, it means that you should not pay anybody to influence them to do or not to do or to find out what they did or what they didn’t do. That is prohibited under the Act,” he stressed. Every person who is found guilty of bribery under the provisions of the Act shall, on summary conviction thereof, be liable to imprisonment for twelve months or a fine of one thousand dollars.
He discussed the matter of undue influence stating that this restriction referred to the compelling, forcing or injuring of a person to pressure that person into voting. “This is basically saying that persons should make the vote of their own free will. You should not compel a person, threaten him, or beat him, inflict injury, or force him in any way to do or not to do. He must make the decision on his own,” he said sternly.
Regarding undue influence, the Act states that, “Every person who, directly or indirectly, by himself or herself or by any other person on his or her behalf, makes use of or threatens to make use of any force, violence, or restraint, or inflicts or threatens to inflict, by himself or herself or by any other person, any temporal or spiritual injury, damage, harm, or loss upon or against any person, in order to induce or compel such person to vote or refrain from voting or on account of such person having voted or refrained from voting at any election, or who by abduction, duress or any fraudulent contrivance, impedes or prevents the free exercise of the franchise of any voter, or thereby compels, induces or prevails upon any voter either to give or refrain from giving his or her vote at any election, commits the offence of undue influence within the meaning of this Act.” The penalty for this offence is imprisonment for twelve months or a fine of one thousand dollars.
He reminded the public that a state of emergency is still in effect in the Federation and the guidelines under the regulations to wear face masks and maintain social and physical distancing are still in place.