BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
SOLOMON Islands Electoral Commission Chief Electoral Officer, Jasper Highwood Anisi, has clarified the ongoing discussions among electorates regarding the 2024 National General Elections Biometric Voters’ Registration exercise.
The voter registration period is from September 4 to September 29, 2023.
Speaking to local journalists at a recent press conference in Honiara, the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission’s (SIEC) Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Jasper Anisi, explained that voters need to clearly understand the Electoral Act and Regulations guiding the Biometric Voters’ Registration exercise to avoid doubts and confusions.
He noted that Section 4(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act are too broad and are of paramount importance for clarity for the people of this country.
“To be eligible to register based on the Act, Section 4(1) states that if you have resided in the constituency for more than six months, and Section 4(2) states that if you are a member of a tribe, group, or indigenous group in the particular constituency.
“As long as you meet the qualifications, as long as you are 18 years old and a citizen of the Solomon Islands, then you are entitled to register at that particular constituency where you reside,’’ the CEO explained.
Anisi made further clarification, basing his example on the issues of cross-border registration and non-cross-border registration.
“I can give you an example of myself about how many constituencies I can register in. I live in West Honiara but work in Central Honiara, so I can register in both. I am married in Shortland, and my wife, who is from the Shortland Islands, is also part of Are’are. That adds up to four constituencies. My father is from Baegu Asifola, and my mother is from North Malaita; that’s five constituencies. I also have relatives in Small Malaita, meaning I can register in those constituencies if I choose to.
“We cannot say that cross-border registration is not happening or occurring; however, border-crossing registration refers to someone who does not belong to that particular constituency, has no connection, or has lived in that constituency for more than six months but decided to do so. That is cross-border registration,’’ he said.
Mr. Anisi said all Voter Registration Centers (VRC) are operational and active. “We have communication lines at centers with team leaders. If there is an issue, they will raise it with their Registration Officer (RO) and the Registration Manager (RM). If the RM cannot deal with it, he or she will raise it with the Operation Team (OP), where we have a small operation center 24/7.
“If they see it requires executive decision, then they will forward it to the CEO and then forward it to the Commission for final say or decision-making,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Anisi said the second phase, which is the omission and objection period, will be from November 11 to 30.
“That is when you can reject any person, either not to be registered in any particular constituency or on the list, and not now, however, with evidence why he or she should not. That will come around November 11 to 30.
“The reason why registration is held back at the constituencies is to maintain the integrity and accuracy of the listing compared to 2018, where data was not accurate due to the mass movement of people to different constituencies for registration,” he said.
Likewise, Mr. Anisi reminded everyone about the registration eligibility criteria.
“To register, you must be 18 years old, a citizen of the Solomon Islands, and an ordinarily resident of the constituency you wish to register in.
“In addition to the above eligibility criteria, the Electoral Act 2018 also provides for pre-registration of those who have and will be turning 17 years old during the time of registration”, Mr. Anisi said.
He explained that the pre-registered 17-year-olds will remain on the provisional voter’s list until their 18th birthday before getting added automatically to the master voting list.
“This is only a voter registration update; hence, only those who need to register new and/or want to update their voter details can do so within the period of September 4 to 29, 2023.”