Opinion: One way ticket

POSTED: 07/8/14 3:02 AM

One way ticket

Postulation Day is rapidly approaching and so far, the ministry of justice has issued no guidelines. That could still come of course – better late than never – but still, one would expect a more pro-active approach these days instead of last minute instructions.

We figure that the campaign will therefore be a free for all once more, with bill boards the size of cruise ships, district meetings lasting as long as those parties will last – be it until midnight, one o’clock or even later and with the black curtains still in place at the voting booths.

Yes, the Democratic Party wants to have them removed, but for what reason? Currently, there is no reason at all to do this. The idea was at first to prohibit voters from taking pictures of their ballots with their smart phones. By now, it has been clearly established that there is no legal basis for such a ban.

Voters are free to take pictures of their ballots and of themselves with their ballots. They are also free to publish those pictures on Facebook or anywhere else on the internet.

Removing the curtains will then only serve to allow voters to take better pictures, because they will have more natural light.

Will those pictures then make it possible for citizens to sell their vote? Probably is not the answer here – that must be: absolutely. Buying and selling votes is illegal though, so this is something to take into account.

Just before the elections, on August 4, the election fraud case of September 2010 will be handled in the Court in First Instance. One of the suspects has passed away recently, so she will no longer be prosecuted, but the others are in for some sort of punishment in case the court finds them guilty.

Said punishment cannot be shocking: the maximum sentence is 6 months in jail or a fine of, if we are not mistaken, around $165. That anybody will go to jail for selling or buying a vote almost four years ago is a no-brainer. That will not happen. First of all, because the offense was committed a long time ago, and second of all because the prison is full. We need the space for real criminals there. The only punishment that remains is public shame.

The Democratic Party goes into these elections with the You Can’t Buy My Vote campaign. Maybe it would have been more accurate to label this the We Won’t Buy Your Vote campaign, but we get the drift. There is finally some attention for the votes-for-money phenomenon.

How will that work out? We are not sure, even though we sympathize with this campaign initiative. There is a lot of poverty on the island and if voters feel that politicians in subsequent governments have not done anything for them, they may very well feel that selling their vote is a good opportunity to get back at those who ignore them anyway.

The question is also where one ought to draw the line. A party tee shirt – mwah. We have heard stories from people who will only wear them if they get paid to do so. A green watch on your wrist? What is the difference with a tee shirt or a party baseball cap? Those watches may just run out of battery power after August 29 and then end up massively on the dump.

When politicians give something away, it is always good to be careful. We remember an action from Pasok, the socialist party in Greece, years ago, whereby it offered voters from countries as far away as Germany were offered airline tickets to come home and vote. The Greeks who accepted the ticket were in for a nasty surprise on the day they wanted to fly back: the party had given them a one-way ticket.

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