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Sasako says it would save time, expense

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 2, 2010) – A candidate in next week’s national general election has called for the introduction of postal voting, saying such a move is a win-win situation for voters, employers and candidates.

Alfred Sasako who is contesting the East Kwaio Constituency on Malaita says postal voting is a way out in addressing interruptions to family, job and other commitments that voters in urban centres, candidates and employers face today.

"The sudden surge in the number of people wanting to travel to their own Constituencies to vote in this year’s election shows that the people of Solomon Islands are serious about the future of this nation and would want to be actively involved in the political process.

"Unfortunately, many cannot afford to travel either because of the costs involved or because of work commitments," Mr Sasako who is contesting under the Direct Development Party [DDP] banner said.

"In the same way, many candidates find the cost of hiring ships to take voters to their constituencies has become prohibitive.

"People often forget that in Solomon Islands it is the candidate that has to shoulder the cost of everything, including the hire of ships," he said.

Mr Sasako said one way to address this problem is to consider introducing postal voting at the next national general election.

"I believe the enthusiasm shown by the people to take part in this year’s national general election is an important indicator of their desire to engage politically at the grassroots level. It should be encouraged," Mr Sasako said.

"For this reason I believe appropriate authorities should take up my suggestion that postal voting be introduced at the next national general election due in 2014."

Alfred said there are other reasons why the postal voting proposition merits consideration.

"Postal voting provides an opportunity for ordinary Solomon Islanders who are away from home to cast their votes for the candidate of their choice regardless of where they are.

"It gives them the perfect opportunity to have a say in what goes on in their original place of abode," Mr Sasako said.

"Given the poor transportation network nationwide, postal voting provides the minimum of disruptions to family, work commitments and other equally important engagements the voter may have in his or her place of abode.

" It means a voter in Honiara or Gizo for example does not have to leave his place of employment to cast his or her vote."

As for the candidates, postal voting helps reduce election-related costs substantially, which the poor candidate has to cough up.

"Postal voting in my view is a win-win situation for voters, employers and candidates. It should be given consideration it merits. I do acknowledge that there may be problems but what other system hasn’t got one," he said.

"I therefore call on appropriate authorities to give the introduction of postal voting serious consideration with a view to introducing it by 2014 or in earlier by-elections," Mr Sasako said.

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