Voters from South Choiseul Constituency will now go to the poll to elect their Member of Parliament on 19th May, 2021.
This was confirmed by signing of the Election date instrument by His Excellency, the Governor-General, Sir. David Vunagi, which was later published in the gazette today (yesterday)
Chief Electoral Officer, Mrs Jane Waetara said that By-Election Date legal instrument and its publication in the gazette initiates the 56 days election timeline lead up to Election Day.
Nomination of candidates will start from 24th March till 7th of April 2021. Candidates wishing to contest in the by-election are to see Returning Officer who is stationed at Malangono nomination center in South Choiseul Constituency to receive nominations.
South Choiseul Constituency parliamentary seat has left vacant for almost a year, since Hon. Robertson Galokale had lost the seat through a successful election petition launched against him following the 2019 National General Election.
The publication of the election date has opened the legal election campaign period which begins from the 23rd March till midnight on the 17th May, 2021.
“Mrs Waetara wants to remind voters, candidates and their supporters that, campaigning outside the legal campaign period is an election offense with a heavy penalty”, Mrs Waetara said.
She adds, “this by elections is a result of finding candidates not complying with election rules and so intending candidates must be aware of the election rules and offences, to conduct themselves and their supporters in accordance to the Electoral Act”.
Section 124 of the Electoral Act 2018 provides a maximum penalty of $20,000, or 2 years imprisonment or both for a candidate convicted of campaigning outside the campaign period.
There is no voter registration update for these by elections; therefore, all voters registered for the 2019 NGE will remain as approved by the Electoral Commission.
Solomon Islands Electoral Commission would like to call on voters from South Choiseul Constituency and interested public to check all available media outlets for more updates regarding the by-election.
Voting outside your constituency is one of the goals that Electoral Commission is determined to achieved.
Chairman of the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission, Hon Patteson Oti in a statement said that, based on the successful implementation of the pre-poll legal provision in 2019 national general elections, the Electoral Commissions has been planning to pilot the ‘out of constituency voting’ (OCV) service during the South Choiseul Constituency National By-Election 2021.
“However, the trialling plan to implement this ‘out of constituency voting’ (OCV) will now no longer be possible in the coming South Choiseul By-Election”, Hon Oti Said.
Hon. Oti said that, whilst the Electoral Act 2018 (section 94) provides for pre-polling voting services for election officials, the inclusion and application for out of constituency voting under that provision of the Electoral Act is much more complex than envisaged, and which will potentially require further amendment to the Electoral Law.
In the statement, Hon Oti explained that ‘Out of Constituency Voting’ facility would enable voters to vote outside their constituency, through a pre-polling arrangement under an expanded category of voters under S.94 of the Electoral Act 2018.
“This voting service would enable those whose names on the voter list for constituency they are registered in, but will not be at their polling station on election day, therefore can still vote by way of application for pre-poll from anywhere in the country,” Hon. Oti elaborated.
“Unfortunately, trialling of the out of constituency voting during the South Choiseul by-election will now no longer be possible due to a number of unforeseen circumstances, including legal limitations under the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act.”
“Firstly, Electoral Commission’s good intension for the implementation of the out of constituency voting (OCV) service was during pre-covid19 times, however, with the onslaught of covid-19 pandemic last year, its negative impact on all government finances is being felt throughout all government agencies including the Office of the Electoral Commission, Hon Oti explained.
“Secondly, there needs more enabling arrangements both within the SIEO staff capacity and specific provisions in the law, to enable informed preparation of more robust and electoral operation plan that will ensure an effective and efficient delivery of this election OCV services to the people”, Hon. Oti continued.
While the Commission is currently committed to exploring legal provision of additional services to the electorate, such as OCV, its ability to do so requires that there are enabling legal provisions providing the legal basis for such services, improved staff capacity, finance and a robust and credible operations plan
Accordingly, if such requirements are fulfilled, then the Commission will be in a position to assess the possibility of embarking on such services for the 2023 national general elections.
The Electoral Commission has instructed the Chief Electoral Officer and her Team to continue to work on the operation plans for this, in the event an opportunity arises before the 2023 national general elections to pilot OCV. Otherwise, Solomon Islands Electoral Commission will just have to ensure that national operation plans are as detailed, robust and credible as can be for the 2023 national general election and at the same time to continue to work on the necessary adjustments to the electoral law.
The Solomon Islands Electoral Office in its preparation towards the By-Elections is seeking to recruit temporary Election Polling officials for the Central Honiara and North East Guadalcanal Constituency By- Elections on the 18 November 2020.
SIEC wishes to remind all candidates who contested the East Makira By-Election on 11 December 2019, to comply with section 69 of the Electoral Act 2018.
The SIEC commended the candidates mentioned in the List below and takes this opportunity to thank all those who have complied with section 69 of the Electoral Act 2018.
The Solomon Islands Electoral Office (SIEO) reminds employers to allow employees who are registered voters to travel and vote on polling day, April 3rd, if they so wish.