The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) has confirmed that the recent National General Elections recorded the highest ever voter turnout, with 89.93% of all registered voters casting their ballot. “This is a great success for the SIEC and for our country as a whole,” Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Polycarp Haununu said. “I would like to acknowledge everyone who made the effort to get to their polling station on Election Day and exercise their democratic right.” In the 2010 National General Election, voter turnout was just 52.4%, though the Commission says that figure does not take into account the large number of multiple registrations and deceased persons that were on the roll prior to the introduction of Biometric Voter Registration. The SIEC says the voter turnout figure compares favourably with other countries in the region. “In the Fijian National Election earlier this year, voter turnout was 83.97%and in the New Zealand National Election turnout was 78.96%,” Mr Haununu said.
Officials from the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission have declared the final results of last week’s landmark polls. The November 19 election was the country’s first since an Australian-led peacekeeping operation transitioned to a police-focused mission last year. Philothea Ruaeho, a spokeswoman for the electoral commission, said the final results for all the constituencies had been declared by the governor-general. Independent candidates were the biggest winners, securing 32 seats in the 50-seat parliament. With no dominant political party emerging, the members were expected to travel to the capital, Honiara, to begin negotiations on a coalition government. The newly-elected MPs will also choose the country’s next prime minister.
Police in Solomon Islands have recovered a ballot box after it was briefly stolen by an election official following yesterday’s historic polls. Vote counting is underway in the country’s general election, the first to be led by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. The 10-year Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was reduced to a police mission supporting local police last year. Solomons police confirmed a ballot box was stolen by an election official as a boat was being loaded to go to a central counting station. The incident happened near Auki, in the eastern part of the island of Malaita.
People have been travelling for the past two days and nights, making huge journeys back to their constituencies to vote. Absentee voting is not permitted in the November 19 elections, so people from the outer islands must travel to their home provinces to place their ballots. Bransby was standing on the jetty in Honiara, as hundreds of voters queued for boats for days and nights, to return home to exercise their democratic rights. This will be Solomon Islands’ first general election since the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) military personnel left the country late last year.
Solomon Islands’ Electoral Commission says a formal complaint must be made before there is any investigation into voter rigging. Solomon Islands’ Electoral Commission says a formal complaint must be made before there is any investigation into allegations of electoral fraud. Chief electoral officer, Polycarp Haununu, says the commission has not received a single report of vote rigging, despite widespread rumours voters are selling their identification cards in exchange for political support. “Since the beginning of the registration, my office hasn’t received any formal complaints about buying of ID cards,” Mr Haununu told Pacific Beat.
Less than two weeks since the introduction of a biometric voter registration system in Solomon Islands there are allegations of electoral fraud. Transparency Solomon Islands says it’s already received reports of widespread vote rigging ahead of the national election later this year. TSI’s chief executive Daniel Fenua says there is anecdotal evidence of candidates taking possession of scores of ID cards. He says the cards are purcahsed from individual voters.
Solomon Islands Opposition leader Dr Derek Sikua has called on the Government to make every effort to immediately allocate funds to the National Electoral Commission for the commencement of the biometric voter registration next Thursday. Biometric voter registration to be introduced at the upcoming national general election at the end of this year is a highly advanced biometric information system designed to address the need of a robust and secure voter registration and identification system. Dr Sikua made the call after learning that the proposed commencement of the biometric voter registration on Thursday 27, 2014 would be delayed till March due to government funding problem.
Lack of government funding has put this year’s national elections at stake. The Electoral Commission on Friday warned its planned voter registration field work, scheduled to start January 27, may now not possible due to lack of funding. “It is very important the Commission has an assurance from the Government that sufficient funding will be committed for the entire operation,” chairman of the Electoral Commissioner Sir Allan Kemakeza said on Friday. “We do not want to be in a position where we are forced to stop mid-way through the process because this will cause widespread confusion for the public,” he added.
A new and improved voter registration system has been launched yesterday. Called the Biometric Voter Registration, the system is expected to solve problems normally faced during voting such as double voting and or voting on other people’s names. The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission held the launching at the National Museum to mark the start of the Biometric Voters Registration Campaign. The ceremony was attended by the chairman of the SIEC, Sir Allen Kemakeza, Opposition leader Dr, Dereck Sikua, Permanent Secretary of Home affairs, Mr. Fred Fakarii and Representatives. Chief Electoral Officer Polycarp Haununu said the Electoral Commission will undertake a nationwide registration of eligible electors using the new system, starting from January to March 2014. “This is part of strengthening of the Electoral Cycle in Solomon Islands,” Mr Haununu said. He said the commission has taken the “bold decision” to replace the current voters list with a list to be compiled using the Biometric technology, in the face of advancing ICT and emerging challenges in voter registration in the Solomon Islands. “In the past years, registrations of voters were captured manually which sometimes not accurate and takes up a lot of time. With the use of this system, it will be simple fast and reliable.”
The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission has warned contesting candidates to be vigilant and to make sure their act of campaigning is legitimate. “Elections have laws that guide candidates, officials and voters and the general public and individuals that are in breached of these laws or electoral offenses face their penalties when found guilty in court. There are several election petitions court cases that have been filed in the past against winning candidates and officials and have resulted in some candidates loosing their parliamentary seats,” Mr Polycap Haununu.
The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission through RAMSI’s and Solomon Islands Government’s legal framework on reform and capacity building has received new advisors to help on electoral reform.
The Electoral Commission this week received one operations advisor, two new graduates and a program manager to the Electoral System Strengthening Program (ESSP) to be based at the Electoral Commission Office. A legal advisor is expected to join the office in mid August. Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Polycarp Haununu, welcomed the advisors into the office on Tuesday.