Monday, 30 November 2009 1:09 PM

Hundreds Apply to Take Part In Voter Registration

Hundreds of people from across the country have applied to be involved in voter registration which starts early next year.

The Electoral Commission has been flooded this week with applications from every province following the call to recruit over 700 voter registration officials.

Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Polycarp Haununu, said that he was very happy that more than half of the applicants are women and young people.

"The Electoral Commission has encouraged women and young people to be involved in voter registration. We are very please that people representing the whole community have shown such a strong interest in paying their part in the democratic process," Mr Haununu said.

This week more than 100 people came to the Office of the Electoral Commission every day to fill in application forms after advertising and service messages went out on radio and in newspapers. More application letters are being received by post and fax from the provinces.

People applying have different skills and experience, including students recently graduated from their studies.

One applicant, Ms Harreth Honimae, said she was interested in becoming an Assistant Voter Registration Officer to make sure that women and young people over the age of 18 were registered to vote in the upcoming election.

"There were many eligible women, including myself, and other young voters, who missed out during the last election because we were never registered to vote or had registered but then moved to another constituency," Ms Honimae said.

"At the last election I couldn't find my name at the polling station so I couldn't vote - that's why it's important that registration officials work hard to get out to all houses and register people over the age of 18 so they can vote on election day."

Mr Jethro Fa'alaua, aged 29, said he was interested in applying to work as an official in the area where he was from to help stop people registering twice or in the wrong constituency.

"If registration officials come from the area where they will be working in, they can make sure that the people they are registering as a voter really come from that area and are registering with their true name," Mr Fa'alaua said.

Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Polycarp Haununu, said that now applications have closed, all applications would be given to Registration Officers already appointed for each province for selection and training.

Mr Haununu thanked everyone who applied and called for patience as lack of funds from the Ministry of Finance had delayed the commencement of voter registration activities.

"We now expect Assistant Registration Officials to be selected and trained by early next year," Mr Haununu said.

"Despite not getting any funding to conduct voter registration at this time, the Electoral Commission is still going ahead with as much planning and preparation as possible."

"Once we receive government funding, we will be ready to start in order to complete a totally new voter list before the next general election."

Mr Haununu emphasized the importance of a proper voter registration process before the next election.

"Voter registration is a vital part of elections as the current voters' list needs to be updated," Mr Haununu said.

"The current voters' list contains people registered with the same name but in different locations, people who have died, and does not include young people who have turned 18 since the last election," Mr Haununu said.

"In order for people to vote at their polling station on election day, they must first register to vote - this means registering one name, in one place only."

"We look forward to working together with the community closer to the commencement of voter registration to make sure that the final voter list is true and correct, to make sure that elections are free and fair."


Source: The Electoral System Strengthening Program at the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission