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Election laws strict, Candidates quibble with Commission

Providenciales, TCI, October 17, 2016 – The issue and illegality of ‘treating’ potential voters to gifts or kind gestures has the potential to turn the general election season in the Turks and Caicos Islands into a petty circus; but Elections Supervisor Dudley Lewis said the law is the law and any case brought to him must be investigated.

In a meeting led by the Integrity Commission, Lewis found the issue of treating a big sore spot for many of the at large candidates who turned up for a special session tailored to help them better understand the laws governing the general elections.

Lewis said once a matter is reported, his office has to look into it… he said it is about balance and even the perception of balance.

 “Should I during Christmas time give my ham and my turkey to the constituents, but these things have been done over the years.  I know a lot of people do not agree with what I’m going to say, but that is a form of treating.  If you are a candidate and you’re doing this, I will advise you not to do it, because once you do it and we find out, an investigation will be carried out.  If a political party is having a branch meeting, and they have drinks within that branch meeting, that wouldn’t be considered as a form of treating.  If you’re going to have a rally, and you announce on that rally that listen, at this rally we are going to have food and drinks, that will be a form of treating.” – Dudley Lewis

We spoke to Deputy Director of the Integrity Commission, Richard Been who said the questions emanating from the candidates is what led to the meetings, it is a second round.

“In the election in 2012, the supervisor Mr. Lewis, he made it quite clear that his office was not going to tolerate that breach of the ordinance, which has been in place for decades, for a very long time.  So, most of them called us regarding that, and those who traditionally had family members who give dinners to one or two people on a Sunday etc., we try to explain that no one is out to stop that traditional Sunday dinner you give to this person or that person, but if you go out and comprehensively try to feed hundreds of people, then you know somebody is going to have an issue with it.”

 

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