By Alfred Sasako
THOUSANDS of Honiara residents can now vote for their Constituency candidate without having to travel to the Constituency to do so, the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission, has confirmed.
At the same time pre-poll voting will be introduced for the first time in the 2019 National General Election, which could fall in either February or March next year.
An Electoral Commission official told Island Sun this week that each of the 47 Constituencies outside Honiara would have a secret ballot box at three polling stations in Honiara.
The three polling stations would be located at the Maranatha Hall in East Honiara, Lawson Tama Stadium in Central Honiara and Rove Playground in West Honiara, the Electoral Commission, said.
The official said the new arrangement should help ease travels for an estimated 14, 000 Constituency voters who otherwise had to travel long distances to cast their votes in their Constituency of choice. In the past, many were disappointed as they found they could not vote for one reason or another.
“The new arrangement should help address the problem as well as ease the travel costs on intending candidates,” the official said.
In another development, the Electoral Commission said pre-poll voting is to be introduced for the first time at next year’s national general elections in a bid to help police and electoral officers cast their votes early as they would be busy conducting the actual election.
The Commission said pre-poll voting would be conducted a few days earlier than the actual Election Day, adding all the normal election rules would apply. Election scrutineers would be involved in the counting.
It said specific provisions dealing with the conduct of pre-poll voting have been included in the Electoral Bill 2018. The Bill is due to be debated in Parliament when it resumes on 18th July this year.
Meanwhile a member of the public has called on authorities to ensure intending candidates publicise their profiles, including their educational background so that voters have an informed decision to make on who to vote for.
“We are sick and tired of any tom, dick and harry nominating for this important office. I am saying this because some in Honiara, for example are already promising voters parcels of land when we know that they are simply doing so in the interest of foreign land speculators,” the man who wished to remain anonymous, told Island Sun yesterday.
“As a Solomon Islander, I want to see a free and fair election being contested by individuals who can provide quality leadership for this country,” the man said.
The man said the current House had a lot to answer for in terms of providing a fair and just leadership when it comes to disbursements of financial resources.