Yet to be decided on by electoral commission
BY ALFRED SASAKO
THE introduction of the proposed out-of-constituency voting scheme is still subject to approval by the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission, according to Chief Executive Officer, Mose Saitala.
Mr Saitala was clarifying whether or not the scheme is a certainty in next year’s national general elections.
“The voting in Honiara for your home constituency, although favoured by our political leaders and our SIEC Office, the Commission is yet to make a decision on this.
“And I will only submit for approval by the Electoral Commission this new ‘out of constituency’ voting scheme for voters in Honiara once I am satisf[ied] with the planning of it,” Mr Saitala said.
“At this stage we have not completed this planning exercise.”
There have been mixed reactions to the proposed voting scheme. While some see it as a cost-saving measure, others say the out of constituency voting is a scheme by corrupt candidates who want to manipulate voters and the system.
“It is a real concern,” one villager said of the scheme.
“Our fear is that we do not have the capacity to police voting in Honiara. The scheme would simply amplify the scale of cheating during voting in Honiara. Let’s not add one more problem to a system that has come under severe criticisms in the past,” the villager said.
Meanwhile, Saitala has explained the rationale for pre-polling.
“Pre-polling is practised in many countries. It is an arrangement to allow for those who would like to vote but couldn’t do so during polling day because of commitment they cannot avoid,” he said.
“For example, there are usually about no less than 3,000 temporary staff we recruit to help us conduct voter registration and the voting on polling day. Most of these staff will be posted to various locations where they are not registered to cast their vote.
“There are also officers in that same category who cannot abscond their responsibilities on polling day, e.g. doctors and nurses, etc.
“There are also the sick in hospitals; they can now vote by way of remote voting or pre-polling,” Saitala said.