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Online campaigning must end December 8

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Although the office of the supervisor of elections does not have the resources needed to ensure that all campaigning on social media ceases at midnight the day before general elections, Vincentians are being called upon to do the right thing.{{more}}

Supervisor of elections Sylvia Findlay, during a call in programme on NBC radio last Sunday, stated that although legally, campaigning should end at midnight on December 8, it is more difficult to monitor social media campaigning than it is to monitor traditional methods of campaigning.

“Campaigning is campaigning, whether it is via a truck with loudspeakers or on social media. One is easier to monitor than the other and clearly there are challenges for the electoral office.

“It is a very complex issue and I really will be frank and say that the electoral office does not have the resources to police this,” she added.

The supervisor of elections stated that although the problem of social media campaigning is a relatively new one, one must still be mindful of the law.

“These were not issues that were current in 1982 and maybe as far down as 2005. I believe they started to surface somewhere around 2009 when we had the referendum and the law has not been amended to specifically address them, but I would again say the law does speak to it,” she stated.

Section 41 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) 1982 says: “ No person shall furnish or supply any loud speaker, 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 loud speaker, bunting, ensign, banner, standard or set of colours, or any other flag, on polling day.”

Findlay petitioned the public to uphold the law and do the right thing.

Any person who contravenes the provisions of section 41 of the RPA is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of $1,500 and to imprisonment for one year.

“Again we are appealing to persons to do the right thing, to do what is legally binding on us as Vincentians and more so as the electorate of the country.” (CM)

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