18 July 2017
This guidance does not replace the provisions of the Elections Ordinance & Regulations and Candidates have been advised to read the Elections legislation fully to understand their rights and responsibilities.
Candidates and the media during the elections campaign
The Media Code states that Candidates should not act as news presenters, interviewers, presenters or journalists of any type of media service during an election period. Candidates may be interviewed by the media and it is the media’s responsibility to offer the same opportunity to all candidates. It is for the individual candidate to decide whether or not he/she wishes to be interviewed by the media.
Candidates may use their personal social media accounts throughout their election campaigns but should do so in an appropriate manner that does not contravene the law.
Campaign posters should be removed within 14 days after the poll. Posters should not be displayed within the Polling Station or Polling Station limits on the day of the poll.
Rules of behaviour for the Candidates and the public at large
Part V of the Elections Ordinance 2009 states that Candidates and other members of the public must not commit offences in connection with the elections such as:
- Breaching the secrecy of voting by revealing who an elector has voted for;
- Inducing an elector to display the ballot paper after it is marked;
- Applying for a ballot paper in the name of someone else (whether dead, alive or fictitious) – except if permitted by the provisions of proxy voting;
- Applying for a ballot paper when the candidate has already voted;
- Giving (or promising to give) an elector food, drink or entertainment to influence the elector to vote for a candidate(s) or not vote at all;
- Threatening to use force, violence or restraint against an elector to make the elector vote for a particular candidate(s) or not vote at all;
- Lending, giving or promising to obtain goods, money, services, etc for an elector if the elector votes for him or her or not vote at all.
Case studies of what is and what is not acceptable behaviour by candidates and the general public
- Candidate X invites Mr B to the pub for a beer if Mr B votes for X. Is this wrong?
Yes, this amounts to treating.
- Candidate X tells Mr B that if X is elected one of the top policies that he will pursue will be employment for all. Is this wrong?
No, this is a policy – it is perfectly acceptable for candidates to state what their policy intentions are.
- Candidate X says to Mr B ‘if you vote for me, I can get your son a job’. Is this wrong?
Yes, this is a bribe.
- Candidate X tells Mr B ‘if you don’t vote for me, I will beat your brother up’. Is this wrong?
Yes, this amounts to undue influence.
- Candidate X tells Mr B ‘if you vote for me, I will make sure that you win the government tender (for goods / services)’. Is this wrong?
Yes, X is bribing Mr B.
- Candidate X tells Mr B, who is a resident in Cape Villa ‘if you vote for me, I will drive you to town’. Is this wrong?
Yes, X is treating Mr B.
- Candidate X’s wife tells Mr B, who is a resident in Cape Villa ‘if you vote for my husband, I will drive you to town’. Is this wrong?
Yes, X’s wife is treating Mr B. She commits an offence even if she is not a candidate.
- Candidate X’s son tells Mr B ‘if you vote for my dad, he will have your road done’. Is this wrong?
Yes, X’s son is bribing Mr B to obtain a vote for X. He commits an offence even if he is not a candidate.
- Candidate X tells Mr B ‘I will arrange transport to and from the Polling Station for you and your family, if you all vote for me on Polling Day’. Is this wrong?
Yes, X is bribing Mr B.
Candidate X tells Mr B ‘if you wish I can arrange transport for you on Polling Day’. Is this wrong?
No, as long as X does not ask for a vote from Mr B.
These are serious offences and attract penalties of up to £2,000 fines or imprisonment for up to 18 months and banning from participating in the elections for seven years. Any electors with concerns about the behaviour of candidates should contact the Returning Officer or the Police immediately.
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18 July 2017