WHAT KIND OF ELECTIONS ARE THERE IN VANUATU?
Vanuatu has both direct elections (where the voters elect their representatives) and indirect elections (where the vote is done by an “electoral college”). Direct elections include national parliamentary elections, as well as provincial and municipal elections. The law allows also for national referendums to amend the Constitution. Indirect elections include the election of the Chairman of the Council of Chiefs (Malvatumauri) and the President of the Republic of Vanuatu
WHAT IS THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM IN VANUATU?
Parliamentary elections in Vanuatu use a combination of first-past-the vote (FPTP) in single member constituencies and single non-transferable vote (SNTV) in multiple member constituencies. Provincial elections use SNTV, while municipal elections use FPTP.
WHO IS A NI-VANUATU CITIZEN?
According to the Constitution, a person is an automatic citizen of Vanuatu if, on the Day of Independence, has or had four grandparents who belong to a tribe or community indigenous to Vanuatu; as well as any a person of ni-Vanuatu ancestry who has no citizenship or nationality.
Additionally, every person who on the Day of Independence is a person of ni-Vanuatu ancestry and has the nationality or citizenship of a foreign state became a citizen of Vanuatu if he made an application, or an application was made on his behalf by his parent or lawful guardian, within three months of the Day of Independence.
Anyone born after the Day of Independence, whether in Vanuatu or abroad, shall become a citizen of Vanuatu if at least one of his parents is a citizen of Vanuatu.
A national of a foreign state or a stateless person may apply to be naturalized as a citizen of Vanuatu if he has lived continuously in Vanuatu for at least 10 years immediately before the date of the application.
Parliament may prescribe further conditions of the eligibility to apply for naturalization.
CAN A NATURALIZED CITIZEN REGISTER TO VOTE?
Naturalized citizens can vote if they have Vanuatu citizenship only. They can have a copy of their foreign birth certificate made at the Civil Status to be used for registration with the VEO. Those that have dual citizenship are not allowed to be involved in national politics, therefore don’t have a right to be registered or vote.
CAN I VOTE IF I AM NOT REGISTERED?
No, you must be registered by the VEO, and be in possession of a voter card in order to cast your ballot.
WHAT IS BEING DONE TO IMPROVE THE VOTER REGISTER?
In order to increase the quality of the voter register, the electoral authorities have decided to transfer the voter register to full electronic technology. In that context, efforts turned to tie in the voter registration data base with that of the civil registry (“civil status”).
WHAT IS JOINT REGISTRATION?
In 2017, the government decided to introduce a “national ID card” to all its citizens. The government also decided to link the voter registration data with the ongoing digitization of civil registration data, in order to improve the quality of the voter register and build trust around it, as well as creating synergies among various government agencies. These decisions resulted in the launching of a nationwide national ID card registration effort, to be jointly coordinated by the Department of Civil Registry and Vital Statistics and the VEO (“joint registration”). Pilot projects were designed and implemented in the island of Mota and Port Vila in 2017 and in Luganville in 2018. Currently, joint registration is still taking place in Luganville and Port Vila, with plan to expand to other parts of the country in 2019-2020.
I LOST MY VOTER CARD; CAN I STILL VOTE?
If you lost your voter card, you have the possibility of replacing it (“duplicate”) at a cost fee of 200 vatu. This can be done at established schedules in all the provinces set by the registration officers; at headquarters, issuing of replacements is a continuous process, but it stops two weeks before polling day. Without a voter card, you will not be allowed to vote.
I DON'T HAVE A BIRTH CERTIFICATE. CAN I REGISTER TO VOTE?
No, you are required to have a birth certificate. If you don’t have a birth certificate, you need to apply and receive one from the corresponding Civil Registry office before applying to register to vote.
I CHANGED RESIDENCE AFTER I REGISTERED TO VOTE. DO I NEED TO REGISTER AGAIN?
Yes, if you have moved from the original polling district, you should re-register by modifying your residence details. Otherwise, you will be assigned to vote in your original polling district.
I AM OUT OF THE COUNTRY. CAN I REGISTER TO VOTE?
Yes, the law allows for out-of-country registration, although this rarely happens. To register out-of-country, you need to follow the stipulated procedures and fill the required forms.
CAN I VOTE OUTSIDE OF THE COUNTRY?
The law allows for out-of-country voting. Currently, there is only one polling station outside Vanuatu, in Noumea (New Caledonia). There are plans to open additional out-of-country polling stations in the future.
IS VOTING COMPULSORY?
No, voting is voluntary, but highly recommended!