PM about campaign reform: “97 Percent Richardson-motion is already regulated by law”

POSTED: 10/25/13 12:05 PM

St. Maarten – The issues independent parliamentarian Frans Richardson raised in a motion about electoral reform in April “are for 97 percent already regulated by law,” Prime Minister Wescot-Williams said on Wednesday.

The PM said that she would point this out in her answer to the parliament. On September 5, Richardson brought his motion to the prime minister’s attention in a letter he submitted to her via Parliament President Gracita Arrindell.

Wescot-Williams said at the time that it is not up to individual Members of Parliament to address her on behalf of parliament, but she is now going to respond after all.

The prime minister said that there is a need for an awareness campaign. “A public campaign to the people is crucial. Once it becomes publicly known and people realize that something is punishable, we will get a form of social control. This is not a banana republic, we too have our laws, contrary to what some would like to say about it.”

Richardson’s motion deals not so much with electoral reform as it does with combating bribery and undue influence on voters on election day.

The first point Richardson mentions in the motion is obviously covered by the criminal code: “Not to bribe, not to pay or accept cash, not to give or accept gifts and other tangible or intangible assets; not to provide preferential treatment.” Bribery is simply a criminal offense.

Offering money “to influence the vote for or against a party or candidate” as Richardson puts it in his motion, is just another form of bribery and therefore also covered by legislation.

Furthermore, the motion contains two remarks about a ban on campaign activity near voting booths and a ban on wearing campaign tee shirts in polling stations. This is prohibited by article 72 of the electoral law: “In the polling station no activities are undertaken that are designed to influence the choice of voters.”

Wescot-Williams said that she has prepared several alternatives for electoral reform. “We want to do something and I will put those alternatives to parliament and ask the members to have a discussion about these matters.”

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