Electoral Taskforce held consultations with Honiara Stakeholders on Electoral reforms
The Taskforce on Electoral Reform continued its electoral reform consultations with the Honiara stakeholders which include representatives from various Civil Society Organisations (CSOs’), government agencies, private sectors, Chiefs, Churches, Political Parties and others living in and around Honiara.
This consultation was on the current proposed electoral reform to hold elections at all levels of government (Parliament, Honiara City Council and the Provincial Assembly) on the same day.
The whole day consultation workshop was held at the Melanesian Haus, St Barnabas Cathedral, Honiara on Wednesday 19 October 2022.
Opening the consultation was the Chairman of the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission, Mr. Patteson Oti. Mr Oti in his opening remarks welcomed and acknowledged the presence of all the participants.
He added that the Taskforce is here to consult them on having all elections on the same day, proposed amendments to the Electoral Act 2018, Honiara City Act 1999 and its election regulations.
He invites all participants to constructively contribute and share their views on the important issues before them.
The discussions with the Honiara stakeholders focussed on the advantages and disadvantages of one day or same day elections and how the same day elections could be maintained over subsequent general elections.
The other important areas discussed are the Out of Constituency voting, continuous registration and the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act 2018.
The election-related provisions of the Honiara City Act 1999 as well as proposed changes to the Honiara City Council (Election) Regulations were also discussed with proposals to align some provisions of the Act and the Regulations to the Electoral Act 2018.
Generally, the Honiara stakeholders supported the proposed idea of having all elections or electors going to poll on the same day. Even though the participants supported the proposals, there were few concerns with the introduction of this new system.
One participant stated that we should not just look at changing a system to accommodate the financial challenges we have, but we should look beyond that and see whether these reforms will improve our governance system or not.
Another participant highlighted that this is a good and simple system, however we must conduct awareness programs on these reforms to inform and educate our people about the one or same day elections.
One other participant urged that during elections all government resources and assets should be made available for the conduct of elections. Throughout the day the participants openly shared their frank views and raised concerns which the Taskforce was grateful for and will take into consideration.
In his closing remarks, Commissioner Stanley Pirione thanked and acknowledged the stakeholders for attending and participating in the important law reform meeting.
He added that their contributions will help the Taskforce to deliver a reform that will positively impact our people. He further highlighted that the Taskforce will make recommendations to the Commission after conducting all the provincial consultations. The views shared during the consultations will assist to inform the recommendations.
Consensus and cooperation by stakeholders are necessary to the smooth transition from different days’ elections to one or same day elections, Pirione added.
The Taskforce is looking forward to conducting the remaining provincial consultations in Temotu, Choiseul, Renbel and Western Province as soon as possible over the next few months. Engaging with stakeholders to hear their views on the proposed reforms is very important to these proposed electoral reforms.
The Electoral Commission and the Taskforce would like to acknowledge the continuous support of the Solomon Islands Government in collaboration with its donor partners the Australian Government and UNDP through SECSIP project for funding the work of the Taskforce.