Researcher predicts Solomon's election most challenging yet
Reseacher questions whether Solomon Islands is ready to roll out new biometric voting system.
An Australian National University researcher says Solomon Islands' approaching general election is likely to be its most challenging yet, with the rollout of a new voting system.
Terence Wood is a PhD student at the university's State Society and Governance in Melanesia Programme.
Mr Wood says Solomon Islands is facing some logistical challenges in the leadup to the election as the country shifts to a new biometric electoral roll in efforts to prevent double-voting.
Amelia Langford asking Mr Wood if he thinks the country is ready for a new voting system and whether it can shoulder the accompanying costs.
Terence Wood says officials previously collated the electoral roll by visiting as many villages as possible but the new roll will require people to visit regional island centres to register.
Voting registration is scheduled to begin on March 10.
TERENCE WOOD: The Government just generally seems to be struggling with money for the core functionings of its bureaucracy so I am not sure how well placed it will be on that. Possibly there will be assistance from aid programmes that may provide it with sufficient funding but whether the Government itself comes to the party with resources is not so clear.
AMELIA LANGFORD: Do you think there has been a bit of a rush to go to this biometric registration?
TW: Yes and it is an interesting question as to why the Solomon Islands Government has decided to make this change. Obviously, if you can get it to work, there is a lot to be said for biometric registration - potentially reduces the risk of voter roll fraud and things like that however at the same time when you consider the relatively limited capacity of the Solomon Islands Government it seems like a somewhat questionable choice. I do not know why the decision was made in the Solomon Islands case but there are examples from other developing countries...the countries that make these biometric voting systems are very assertively marketing them and in some instances even bribing people to get their uptakes for these systems.
I do not know if that happened in the Solomon Islands or not but it is certainly a bit of a concern that the government all of a sudden made this decision. It will be an interesting election. One thing we will be worrying about is just how well it will be conducted logistically. The Electoral Commission has a good track record, at least over the last couple of elections, it will be interesting to see how they deal with the additional challenge of the biometric voting and then beyond that it will be interesting to find out the extent of how things like vote buying are also sort of subverting the electoral process and that is something that probably will occur but it is hard to say until we actually watch the election in action.
AL: So, there are some loopholes there they need to be careful about?
TW: Just things to watch out for right. What we want to make sure is that everybody is reached including people who are mobility-impaired and we also want to make sure that aspiring members of parliament are not able to manipulate the system in a way that excludes supporters of their opponents.
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