The Elections Law contains limited provisions for the funding of political campaigns.
Political candidates can spend up to $40,000 on their political campaigns and must account for their expenditure.
They have to submit a return of all expenses incurred by or on behalf of the candidate to the election supervisor within 35 days of the election. Any campaign expense of $30 or more must include the particulars and a receipt.
Candidates must also account for all the monetary or other contributions they receive for the purposes of the election campaign. This should include the name and address of anyone who contributes more than $10,000.
Crucially, however, the campaign spending limit only applies to the six-week election campaign between nomination and election day. Before nomination day on 1 March, candidates can spend as much as they like without having to report it.
The Elections law does also include a section that limits how campaign or any other funds can be spent by candidates by addressing the offences of vote buying and treating.
Promising or paying cash, gifts or other considerations to anyone for voting, or not voting, falls under the definition of bribery.
Paying for food, drink and entertainment to corruptly influence voters is considered treating.
This issue of treating has caused some consternation among election candidates in 2013. Then-Police Commissioner David Baines warned that both candidates and voters needed to be aware that treating is a criminal offence.
Because the provision of food and drink is common at political events, Baines said at the time low value food and drink items like sodas, finger sandwiches and chicken wings at political rallies would be acceptable, as long as they are not considered excessive.
No political broadcast, election advertising or political announcement is permitted on a polling day.
A political broadcast or political announcement shall not include –
- a. any matter in contravention of the Laws of the Islands;
- b. any abusive comment upon any race or religion;
- c. any blasphemous, obscene, indecent or profane matter;
- d. any scandalous or defamatory matter;
- e. any scenes of nudity, eroticism, crime or violence;
- f. any scenes or sounds of private grief or human suffering; or
- g. any harrowing sights or sounds.
Political advertisements, broadcasts or announcements, must include:
- a. the name of the political party or candidate (as the case may be) responsible for the broadcast or announcement; and
- b. the fact that the broadcast or announcement has been paid for.
A political party or a candidate may advertise the broadcasting of a programme under this Part within the period commencing at the pre-recording of the programme and ending at the broadcasting of such programme.
Contravention of this Elections Advertising/Broadcasting provisions are illegal. Please refer to part IV of the Elections Act for the full provision.