by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Posting used ballot papers on social media is an offence
- Offence carries EC$5,000 fine or 6 months imprisonment
- More females than males have signed up to volunteer as monitors
Eligible voters on referendum day are to refrain from posting their used ballot papers on social media. The Parliamentary Elections Office (PEO) said this will be considered an offence as the secrecy of ballot must be maintained.
Voter and Civic Registration Officer with the Parliamentary Elections Office, Ferdinand Phillip said this practice has been seen in the past. “We have heard of instances in the past where an individual took pictures — maybe promised a politician that they will vote in a particular direction and so they took the picture — and posted on social media, especially WhatsApp and Facebook to allow people to know, but the secrecy of that ballot must be maintained and so this practice becomes a no-no.”
The public is also reminded that on the day prior to the staging of the referendum, all campaigning must cease. “In terms of campaigning, there are two camps out there. There is the Yes camp and No camp and so we remind people [that] campaigning should stop a day prior to the referendum. So having known that you should not then be trying to do anything illegal to get people to go in a particular direction or the other.”
Proactive measures have been taken by the Houses of Parliament to outlaw the use of electronic devices inside polling booths through amendments to the People’s Representation legislation. A person found in violation of this law can be fined EC$5,000 or to a term of imprisonment for 6 months.
Phillip said electronic devices such as cellular phones and cameras must be handed over before a person can be permitted to enter into a polling booth to cast their ballot.
“On Referendum Day all the offences will apply, so persons please no alcohol, no trying to bribe voters or try to find out how others voted. Again, we want to remind people that electronic devices are not allowed in the voting station. Please don’t take photos of your used ballot and post on social media for the public to see.”
The Parliamentary Elections Office has noticed more females than males have signed up to volunteer as monitors.
Phillip says this reflects a common trend in society where males are becoming less interested in the democratic process. “In our society, you have the trend developing of male underachievement which is a concern of mine and in other quarters that our males are not seeing it as a golden opportunity to build upon their professionalism and get involved in our nation-building process.”
On Friday 2 November, police officers will start the voting process ahead of the referendum on 6 November.
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