Overseas Solomons Islanders Can’t Vote In National Elections

admin's picture

Election law makes no provision for registration of absentee voters

By Daniel Namosuaia

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, March 6, 2014) – Solomon Islands citizens both studying and working overseas may not have the opportunity to register themselves under new biometric voter registration (BVR) because the new system and law does not allow.

By not registering it will deny them their rights to vote in the upcoming national general election.

More than 1500 students are currently studying in various regional institutions with many more working overseas.

The registration process will run for 40 days starting next Monday and it is likely not all the country’s citizen living overseas either studying or working will be able to return to register during this period.

This means for most of the students they will return at the end of the year unregistered and ineligible to vote.

This was not because these students and working people did not want to register but because there is no provision in the current electoral act that gives them the opportunity to register overseas or in the country somehow.

And this has raised serious concerns from non-government organisations (NGO) and the civil society who urges the government to quickly address the situation.

When asked what steps can be taken to address this situation, the chief electoral officer (CEO) Polycarp Haununu said there is nothing much the commission can do at this stage.

Mr Haununu said this has been a long standing issue that decision makers and their regulators need to seriously look into.

The electoral chief said although it is not a legal obligation for all eligible voters to register, the case of Solomon Islands students studying and those working overseas is different and there should be some amendments in the provisions of the current act that can accommodate these students.

Adding, that the commission will push for amendments to the current electoral act to cater for Solomon Islanders leaving overseas to be given the opportunity to register and vote.

Meanwhile it is clear that the current students and those working overseas who have already left for their studies and work will wait for another four years to register and eligible to vote.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment