Nominations had closed on Wednesday, 7 October, and the Electoral Office is well into preparation for ballot papers printing, the conduct of pre-polling, and the conduct of the election proper on November 18.
In 2019 National General Election, voter turnout for Central Honiara and North East Guadalcanal were 75% and 92% respectively.
The Electoral Commission is doing everything it can to ensure that the same level of voters, if not higher, participated in the upcoming two byelections.
The Chairman of Electoral Commission, Hon. Patteson John Oti, is encouraging registered voters in the two constituencies to come forward and exercise their rights to choose the most suitable person to represent her or him in Parliament.
“It is crucially important that voters in the two constituencies are assured that going to their designated polling stations to cast their ballot papers on November 18 is absolutely safe notwithstanding the fact that we have now coronavirus cases in the country.” Hon. Patterson Oti said.
Election processes relevant to the conduct of these elections have all been reviewed and revised incorporating measures that will prevent the spread of the coronavirus at polling stations.
The Chief Electoral Officer and her Team have been liaising closely with the Covid-19 National Oversight Committee to ensure that we are doing everything correctly and within the emergency laws currently in place.
The safety of everyone is of course dependent also on the behaviour of voters in polling stations.
In this regard, voters are strongly encouraged to observe the strict rules with regard to the distancing of voters from one another when you are standing in the line queuing up at the polling station to cast your vote.
All voters in the queue must also make full use of the water and soap which would be made available to wash your hands before entering the polling station.
Hon Patteson Oti also wishes to inform voters in the two constituencies that the Electoral Commission has made a commitment to continue with the necessary preparation for the conduct of the two by-elections on November 18.
“The only time the Commission may consider invoking section 61 of the Electoral Act (which is to defer the election or part of it) is when there is a declaration of emergency zones for lockdown issued under the powers of the State of Public Emergency Regulations and this has the potential to adversely affect our preparations for elections”. Hon Patteson Oti said.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way election is conducted in all democratic countries. Election naturally draws people to congregate especially at polling stations or at political rally venues making them vulnerable to contracting the virus.
It is against this backdrop that the Electoral Commission is doing everything it can to ensure that the integrity in the conduct of an election (in a Covid-19 environment) is not compromised and that voters should not be fearful of coming to polling stations to exercise their rights at the ballot box.
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