Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell has confirmed his office has forwarded a number of complaints of election offences to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service for investigation.
However, he has declined to provide specifics on the complaints made and how many have been lodged.
“We have referred a number of complaints and concerns about alleged elections offenses to the RCIPS for investigation. However I do not wish to comment on the specifics of any ongoing investigations which have not been concluded,” Howell told the Cayman Compass Wednesday in response to queries.
Howell’s comments come as social media reports claimed a formal complaint was lodged against Premier Alden McLaughlin after he pledged to increase the current tourism stipend being paid to displaced workers impacted by the closure of local borders.
Howell declined to confirm if a complaint was in fact made. He stressed the Elections Office and the RCIPS are committed to addressing all complaints regarding elections offences.
“However, I would like to also caution individuals that pursuant to Section 102 (1) of the Elections Act (2021 revision) it is an offense to make or publish any false statement of fact in relation to the personal character or conduct of a candidate. A conviction on that offense carries a fine of $500 or imprisonment for six months,” he said.
Premier McLaughlin, when contacted for comment on the allegation, dismissed it as frivolous.
“The complaint is rubbish, the last resort of the desperate. Elections are precisely about what candidates promise to do if elected. That is the purpose of campaigns,” McLaughlin said in response to Compass queries.
Other candidates have been announcing pledges on the campaign trail about what they plan to do should they be elected and how they intend to allocate public funds.
Manifestos, which are also filled with plans and promises, are also released by candidates to inform voters about their intended actions once elected.
The Compass understands thus far no charges have been laid in relation to those complaints nor have any files been sent to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
In relation to messaging to candidates and voters on election offences, Howell said, the Elections Office has partnered with the Anti-Corruption commission.
“There is a very prominent graphic on the elections.ky website which links to the information on the general election education campaign. This education campaign is also featured in our social media feeds,” Howell added.
The legislation criteria for treating and gift giving between Nomination and Election Day is set out in the Elections Act (2021 Revision) which outlines offences relating to bribery, treating and undue influence, all of which are subject to a fine of $2,000 or to imprisonment for 12 months.
The offence of bribery is explained in seven scenarios, which include getting or giving money, promises of jobs and offering/ receiving money to return an MP.
Other offences under the Elections Act include making false statements about a candidate’s character or conduct, breaching the secrecy of voting, unlawfully voting and destroying ballots.