THERE are claims of underage registration in some parts of Malaita Province sparking concerns that the current registration process has been abused.
Reports have surfaced that youths under the age of 18 have turned up at the registration venue and got registered.
A West Kwara’ae man told the paper that he believes most of the youths who registered for first time are below the age of 18.
Colson Silise made the claims after witnessing the registration exercise in West Kwara’ae last week.
“Some are either young as 15 and 16 years old,” he said.
Mr. Silise said this underage registration happened because of two reasons; the first intending candidates have forced underage people to register in order to vote for them and the other reason is that returning officers are not strict when it comes to registration of first time voters.
Similar complaints have been raised in Lau Mbaelelea constituency where youths as young as 15 or 16 were also seen registering.
According to chief Jessy Bobby, this underage registration is actually happening in Malaita Province.
He pointed out only the returning officers have the authority to turn down underage registration,.
“But as witnessed over the past days the returning officers have not turned back any of those underage voters who wants to register,” he said
Mr. Bobby suggested the only way to stop this underage registration is to put a law that those who turned up with their birth certificates can register.
He said the current registration process is open to abuse. “And because of this we are expecting some underage voters to vote in the upcoming national general election,” he said.
The electoral law only allows people at the age of 18 to register in order to vote in the next election.
By BIRA’AU WILSON SAENI