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Vote selling also a crime


DAVID T. GILL

Vote selling also a crime

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“When a politician pays you for doing a job for him or her he/she owes you nothing more.”

 

THESE WORDS, I am told, were those of the late Dr Rameses Caddle. The occasion was that of a constituent complaining to him that he had not seen Dr Caddle’s unsuccessful opponent for months since the elections.

Just about three months ago I had reason to recall those words upon leaving a funeral service. A young man I know asked if I was “running again”.

“Yes”, I replied.

He continued: “I backing you, ’cause when you sell your vote you get the worst representation.”

Ever since then I have tried reconciling this statement with Dr Caddle’s. The question is, did Dr Caddle include vote buying in his statement where the payment was for the vote?

When Bajans use the term vote buying, there is a tacit implication that the seller is without guilt.

Like any other form of buying and selling there is a purchaser and there is a seller. Some sort of contract/agreement exists where the cash/cash in kind serves as consideration for the transactional arrangement.

Enshrined in the Laws of Barbados are two acts which govern the behaviour of both elector and candidate as well as persons on behalf of whom they act, or who act on their behalf (agents): the Election Offences and Controversies Act and the Representation of the People Act.

The buying of a vote forms only but part of a corrupt act, falling under the general rubric of an election offence, and specifically deemed an act of bribery.

The buyer and the seller are guilty of the crime. The transaction could be: a thing past, present or yet to come; in money or its equivalent; for voting or refraining; for agreeing to vote and or agreeing to refrain.

Hence it is not only when the elector votes that the contract/agreement is carried out and an illegal act takes place.

Money could be in the form of a loan, agreeing to give or lend, offering or procuring, promising to procure or to endeavour to procure. In addition, money or kind (valuable item, gift, or loan) could be offered for endorsing a candidate or party along with an office, place or employment.

The other corruptive method mentioned in the act to achieve the same outcome as “bribery” is that of “treating”. Treating becomes corruptive when payment is passed (whole or part) for the expense of providing food, drink or entertainment. Again as in bribery, treating could induce one or many to stay away or go out to vote. The guilty party is both the consumer of the food or drink and the payer for the food or drink.

Except for the guilt, Dr Caddle’s quotation seems to embrace the fundamental contractual arrangement between elector and candidate, whereas the statement made to me speaks directly to the quality of representation which results when a vote is bought. Whichever, it is the process that is a criminal act.

– David T. Gill, former MP.

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