With so much questions raised on cross border voters in the current registration for next year’s NGE, the Solomon Islands Election Commission admits it is very difficult to define cross-border voters based on the current law passed in 2018.
Chief Electoral Officer Jasper Anisi, a lawyer himself was grilled on this issue last week, and acknowledged that it is a bit difficult to define crossing border voters at the moment, as the definition of ordinarily resident is too broad.
So, what does the act say?
Section 4 (1) of the Solomon Islands Electoral Act 2018 states that a person qualifies as an ordinarily resident if that person has been continuously residing in the constituency for at least 6 months.
Section 4 (2) on the other hand says that a person qualifies as an ordinarily resident if a person is taken to have been residing in a constituency even if the person is not residing in the constituency if the person is entitled to be or is a member of a group, tribe or line indigenous to the constituency.
Anisi simplifies Section 4 (2) by saying that as long as you have 3 to 4 generations who are connected to the place– under law you’re entitled to register there and that is not cross bordering. Also, he added that besides being connected to the place even if you’re connected to a church group you’re also eligible to vote.
Many people from various constituencies have opposed to cross border voters as influx of boat and truck loads carrying new voters poured into their constituencies. Strong opposition has already come out from various sections notably in Guadalcanal and Malaita.
Anisi further stated that technically you’re not crossing bordering as long as you’re related to the place you’re entitled to register there.
However, he added: “If we use only section 4(1), the issue of cross border will come out clear.”
However, Anisi points out that cross border registration could only happen if the voter has no connection to the constituency.
He gave example by using himself. His father is from Baegu Asifoloa, mother from North Malaita, he’s married to a woman from Shortland who is also part Are’are. He resides in West Honiara but works in Central Honiara then has close connection to relatives in Kwai, East Malaita. Technically he qualifies to register in Baegu Asifola, North Malaita, Shortlands, West Are’are, East Malaita, West Honiara and Central Honiara.
However, if he registers in Marovo then that’s a cross border issue, as he has no connection to the constituency.
Anisi said whilst the registration is ongoing, there is also opportunity later on for objection.
One of his officials says there will be opportunity for objection when those in the constituency have the right to object any registered person whom is not from the constituency.
However the officer said those objecting must be on the ground and must have evidence to proof that the registered person is not from the constituency.
The objection period usually happens before the final list is released.
Anisi also admitted that based on the Observers report in 2019 NGE, the definition is 4(2) is too broad and needed to be reviewed.
However, this will now depend on Parliament in the future to deal with it.
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