ILLEGALIZE VOTER ID CARD BUYING, TSI TOLD GOVERNMENT
Transparency Solomon Islands, TSI, is calling on the Solomon Islands Government to make it illegal for anyone to buy or collect voter registration cards.
Last week, TSI’s Advocacy Legal Advice Centre, ALAC, received a report that an intending candidate from a Honiara constituency is not only buying voters ID cards, but issuing his own cards as a replacement.
TSI’s Executive Officer, Daniel Fenua says a client reported that he went to seek assistance from the intending candidate and was told to bring along his voter ID card.
He says when the client presented his card, the intending candidate gave him some money and a ‘supporters’ card.
He was advised to present the new card if the candidate becomes an MP to qualify for assistance.
The client was also told that his voter ID card will not be returned until days before the National Election.
TSI believes more than two thousand supporter cards have been issued by this intending candidate.
Mr Fenua says it is unclear if there is a specific law against card buying because the new regulations governing the Biometric Voter Registration system are not publicly available.
However, TSI supports the call made by Member of Parliament for East Choiseul, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare that the Electoral Act should be amended to make it illegal to collect voter registration cards.
It says, the real concern here is that voters will be offered financial incentives to vote for a particular candidate when they go back to collect their ID card before election day.
Mr Fenua says, persons entitled to vote must be free to vote for any candidate they choose without undue influence or coercion of any kind that may influence the free expression of their will.
He says, it is an offence to give a person money to persuade them to vote.