Last update: 11-Dec-2013 3:23 pm
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Police issue warning to citizens: Abide by the law on polling day
The Police Service has issued a reminder of election day offences as citizens get ready to cast their ballots on Monday for the local government elections. Public relations officer of the Police Service, ASP Joanne Archie, yesterday appealed to members of the public to adhere to the law during that time. Archie was speaking during the weekly press briefing at Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain. “In a few days we will be embarking on one of the most crucial exercises in any democracy,” she said. “Local government elections are just three days away and police officers have been working round the clock, performing duties at campaigns to ensure and preserve a free, fair, safe and lawful atmosphere for campaigning by all parties and candidates.”
Archie said it was the role of the police to guarantee the safety and security of the electorate and to secure a neutral political environment free of intimidation, coercion or violence, for all stakeholders. “As usual we will be exercising tact, professionalism and above all impartiality as this is critical to the outcome of any election,” she said. “We will be out in full force to discharge all duties as required under the Representation of the People Act Chapter 2:01 thereby creating a favourable climate in which a democratic election can take place...We are committed to that. “However, I want to take this opportunity to sensitise members of the public as to some of offences which we would not like to see committed during this period.”
Offences under the act
Disturbance at election meetings
72. (1) Any person who at a lawful public meeting to which this section applies acts, or incites others to act, in a disorderly manner for the purpose of preventing the transaction of the business for which the meeting was called is guilty of a corrupt practice.
(2) This section applies to a political meeting held in an electoral district between the date of the publication of a notice of election under the Election Rules and polling day.
(3) If any police officer reasonably suspects any person of committing an offence under this section, he may require that person to declare to him immediately his name and address and, if that person refuses or fails so to declare his name or address or gives a false name or address, he is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $750, and if he refuses or fails to declare his name or address or if the police officer reasonably suspects him of giving a false name or address, the police officer may without warrant arrest him.
88. (1) No person shall hire or make use of any band of music on polling day within an electoral district for which an election is being held until two hours after the closing of the poll.
(2) No person shall play in any band of music at any meeting or in any procession held on polling day within an electoral district for which an election is being held until two hours after the closing of the poll.
(3) Any person who contravenes this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $7,500 or to imprisonment for six months.
Prohibition of loudspeakers, banners, favours, badges
Section 89. (1) of the act prohibits anyone from furnishing or supplying any public addresss apparatus, loudspeaker, bunting, ensign, banner, standard or set of colours or any flag to any person with intent that it should be worn or used on polling day within an electoral district any motor or other vehicle as political propaganda on polling day
Section (2) prohibits anyone from furnishing or supplying any flag, ribbon, label, symbol or like favour or any article of clothing to anyone with the intention that it be worn or used by any person within an electoral district on polling day as a badge, to distinguish the wearer as the supporter of any candidate or of the political or other opinions entertained or supposed to be entertained by such candidate; and no person shall use or wear any flag, ribbon, label, symbol or like favour or any article of clothing as such badge within an electoral district on polling day.
Any person who contravenes this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $7,500 or to imprisonment for six months.
People not to congregate near polling stations
90. (1) Subject to subsection (2), during the hours when the poll is open on polling day no persons shall assemble or congregate in a polling station or within one hundred yards thereof.
This does not refer to electors who are waiting to vote at such polling station and who may be acting on instructions given by the presiding officer or any police officer for the purpose of forming a queue with other electors so waiting
Any person who contravenes this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $7,500 or to imprisonment for three months.
Influencing electors to vote for any candidate
91. (1) makes it an offence for any one during the hours that the poll is open, in any polling station, or in any public place within one hundred yards of any polling station, to seek to influence any elector to vote or to refrain from voting for any candidate or political party or to ascertain for whom any elector intends to vote or has voted.
(2) Any person who contravenes this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $7,500 or to imprisonment for three months.
Intoxicating liquor not to be sold
Bar owners of licensed premises are reminded that under Section 92. (1) of the Act:
It is an offence to sell, offer, expose for sale or give away any intoxicating liquor licensed under the Liquor Licences Act situated in any electoral district for which an election is being held is prohibited at any time between the opening and the closing of the poll on polling day.
Likewise, Section 92 (2) makes it an offence to supply intoxicating liquor to any person on the premises of any club registered under the Registration of Clubs Act between the opening and the closing of the poll on polling day
Person contravening are liable on summary conviction to a fine of $15,000 or to imprisonment for six months.
(4) No person shall on polling day consume any intoxicating liquor within a polling station.
Interference with employees’ time off for voting
36. (1) of the act provides for all persons voting as electors at an election to do so in person at the polling station allotted to them under the Election Rules.
Section 36 (2) states that every employer shall on polling day allow every elector in his employ the prescribed period for voting and no employer shall make any deduction from the pay or other remuneration of any such elector or impose upon or exact from him any penalty by reason of his absence during that period.
93. An employer who fails to comply with any of the provisions of Section 36(2) and any person who directly or indirectly by intimidation, undue influence, or in any other way interferes with the granting to an elector of the prescribed period for voting referred to in that subsection is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $30,000 or to imprisonment for 12 months.
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