Dates have been set for the people of TORBA, Pentecost, and Port Vila to exercise their democratic rights through the holding of by-elections.
TORBA will go to polls to elect new councillors in December while Pentecost will elect a new member of Parliament on October 8. The Port Vila municipality will also elect two new councillors.
The Vanuatu Electoral Office confirms that preparations are under way for elections in these constituencies. Proxy and duplicate cards are now open for the Port Vila municipal council and Pentecost by-elections. Those who wish to contest in either Port Vila municipal or Pentecost need to lodge their applications before 7 September 2021.
According to Deputy Principal Electoral Officer, Gary Tavoa, the voter registration process in these provinces is ongoing.
“With funding assistance from New Zealand, the Vanuatu Electoral Environment Project (VEEP), officers continue to go out to communities to register voters and update their ID cards,” said Mr Tavoa.
“Verification exercises were completed early this year in the four provinces of PENAMA, MALAMPA, SHEFA and TAFEA. This was to verify the data collected, and to capture those who were not able to register, during the Civil Voter Registration campaign in 2019. So far, we have over 5,000 new registrations and more than 1,000 ID cards have been printed.”
Through the VEEP project, New Zealand and the UNDP are working with the VEO to strengthen the electoral authorities, at the central and provincial levels, improve voter education and public awareness, and support electoral reform.
The assistance is also supporting the transition to a new voter registration model based on the national ID with increased accuracy and integrity.
New Zealand High Commissioner Jonathan Schwass said, “New Zealand and Vanuatu share a commitment to democratic rule and we are proud to be working with the Vanuatu Electoral Office and UNDP to ensure that the people of Vanuatu have a effective and transparent electoral system.”
A New Zealand High Commission team was in Epi during the Civil Voter Registration and Verification exercise and observed communities coming forward to register and verify their ID cards, electoral cards and birth certificates.
“We want to make sure our names are in the electoral system, because last election some people did not vote because they had ID cards but their names were not on the electoral roll. So, we will wait our turn to get our details confirmed in the system,” Dorah Baptist a young mother from Epi said.
Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Edward Kaltamat said, “ The Electoral Commission is mandated by the constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu in Article 20 (1), (3) and (4) to supervise the registration of electors and to conduct elections to parliament, the National Council of Chiefs, local governments and municipal councils therefore it is the role of the commission to ensure that all eligible electors are registered so not to deny their constitutional rights to vote.
So the commission is determined to ensure that you are not deprived of this right. However, your eligibility to vote has to be confirmed by registration and registration is not mandatory. Hence, it is your duty and responsibility as a citizen to come and register so your name can be included in the electoral list. It is imperative that all citizens 18 years and above are registered now, do not wait come and register.”
The electoral office is not only going out to the communities to register and verify documents, but they have extended their office presence on TAFEA, MALEKULA and SANMA. Plans are in progress to open up offices in other provinces where people can go to register or verify their IDs.
Source: Daily Post