Senior Counsel, Anthony Astaphan said that several facts were clearly misrepresented by the opposition at the recent panel discussion held to explore the topic Electoral process – The Way forward.
During his presentation on Wednesday 22nd May 2019 , leader of the opposition, Honorable Lennox Linton made claims that there had had been cases where citizens were in fact bribed or treated to exercise their voting rights in Dominica.
“We have seen the consideration of huge sums spent on airline and fairy tickets to corrupt the votes of overseas nationals. We have seen huge sums spent on bringing in foreign artists under the watchful electoral commission that refuses to act to prevent fraudulent manipulation of the electoral system, even though it is fully aware of the applicable laws against these practices. Laws of England says that the payment or promise of payment to a voter of his travelling expenses on condition; express or imply that he would vote for a particular candidate is bribery,” he said.
The Opposition Leader also stated that Dominica has a ‘vote where you live’ law.
However, in an interview with DA Vibes, Astaphan made it clear that Linton’s claims that Dominica has a ‘Vote where you live’ law is misleading.
“The leader of the opposition said that in Dominica we have a the vote where you live law; that is factually and legally false because section 272 of the House of Assembly Elector’s Act on page 20 says, ‘Every person whose name appears under the official list of electors for any polling district shall be entitled to vote in that polling district, notwithstanding that he is not resident in that polling district upon polling day.’ One of the fundamental reasons why the legislation made provisions for you to vote in your constituency even if you’re not resident is because the same law passed by parliament provides for you to be overseas and be entitled to vote once you are not challenged on an objection for not having visited Dominica at least once in the five preceding years. The leader of Opposition made no mention of that, in fact, he ignored it and misrepresented the law,” Astaphan stated.
He further expressed that the opposition also misconstrued the premise for their argument against bribery and treating.
“Mr. Linton constantly read the exception which is that the payment or promise of payment of voters’ travelling expenses on the condition expressed or implied that he would vote for a particular candidate; that’s all he read repeatedly. But, the Halsbury’s Laws, fourth edition volume fifteen and paragraph 770, page 421 states the principle legal position immediately preceding the words that Mr. Linton used, which are : The unconditional payment or promise of payment with travel expenses is not bribery.”