Friday, 24 August 2018 8:34 AM

Solomon Islands Passes New Electoral Laws

The Rick Hou led government has garnered necessary support to pass new laws aimed at strengthening Solomon Islands' electoral system.

The Electoral Act of 2018 scraped through its third reading in the house yesterday, securing the two thirds majority needed to pass a constitutional amendment.

Remote voting, regular reviews of the voters' register and higher candidate nomination fees are some of the changes to be brought in.

Other provisions include making it compulsory for employers to release workers on polling day and special considerations for assisting people with disabilities to cast their votes.

The law also requires candidates to present party certificates.

The Parliamentary Bills and Legislations Committee has applauded the attempt to strengthen the electoral system but also urged the government not to abandon the search for a better electoral system.

The committee noted the law did not address the structural deficiencies inherent in the First-Past-The-Post system.

It is unclear how many, if any, of the proposed changes will come into effect in time for next year's elections.

Those involved in the consultations leading up to the proposed amendents say that it is a "huge change, and one that reflects the wishes of those consulted."

"One issue that has been raised in many of our meetings is that of remote voting, we are a nation of islands, this would ensure that people are not pressured to fly home or take a trip home just to vote...and not feel obliged to whoever is paying for their fares."

With Radio New Zealand

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