Richmond Mounties are investigating allegations of vote-buying circulating on the popular Chinese social-media service WeChat.
According to a posting on a WeChat group, voters will receive a “transportation reimbursement” of $20, and are urged to support all Asian candidates and focus in particular on Richmond, Burnaby and Vancouver candidates for council and mayor.
Three candidates in Richmond are named: mayoralty candidate Hong Guo, as well as council candidates Peter Liu, Melissa Shang (which could be a reference to Melissa Zhang) and Zhe Zhang.
The posting, written in simplified Chinese, is made by Wenzhou Association, which urges people to “actively participate in the municipal election voting.”
According to a press release from the Richmond Community Coalition, candidates Chak Au and Melissa Zhang reached out to the RCMP, which subsequently launched an investigation.
Rob Howard, president of the coalition, said his party is “not endorsing Hong Guo for mayor and…we do not support any lists that advocate Chinese-only candidates.
“Richmond Community Coalition will formally demand all Chinese Activist Groups stop associating RCC’s Chinese candidates names with any group that is actively lobbying for voters to mark their ballots for only Chinese candidates.”
RCMP Cpl. Dennis Hwang is encouraging anybody who has been approached with enticements for voting to call them directly.
“Two allegations originating from the social media app WeChat are being examined,” Hwang said Thursday.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Cpl. W. Howard of the Richmond RCMP Serious Crimes Unit at 604-278-1212 or email Richmond_Tips@rcmp-grc.gc.ca
Buying votes is illegal.
The Local Government Act of British Columbia says vote buying “includes money, gift, valuable consideration, refreshment, entertainment, office, placement, employment and any other benefit of any kind.”
Violations of the act are punishable with fines of up to $10,000, and up to two years in prison, among other sanctions.