SIEC Voter Awareness, Info Dissemination Targets All

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A pamphlet containing information about the various BVR phases (circled) on a sack of rice destined to reach the most remote eastern part of Malaita when passengers boarded a passenger boat travelling to East Malaita. Photo credit: Philothea Paul.

THE Solomon Islands Electoral Office (SIEO) has been actively using various media platforms to communicate educational and awareness messages to electorates.

Chief Electoral Officer Moses Saitala said awareness is an important aspect to electoral activities as it enhances knowledge and understanding of electorates on electoral matters.

Mr Saitala said there were recommendations from past elections on the need for a substantially more robust voter education and awareness efforts in preparation for the 2019 National General Election.

“The Solomon Islands Electoral Office prior to the current BVR update had worked really hard and engage all effective media platforms available to get electoral messages across to electorates,” he said.

He said some of the effective awareness platforms used to disseminate electoral information included, radio advertisements, radio programs, radio service messages, TV, short videos, website, social media, text messages, distribution of posters, pamphlets and stickers, awareness talks, using religious gatherings, using the mainstream media and engaging Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to do face-to-face awareness in constituencies.

“For radio, SIEO uses advertisements that are replaced to reflect the different BVR phases. SIEO also have a weekly radio program on SIBC every Friday 5:45pm.

“Awareness talks have also been conducted during gatherings and after Sunday Church services.

“Text messages have been programmed according to the BVR timeline inorder to blast out information in line with a particular registration phase and activities.

“The Electoral Commission also has a newly launched informative website that has all information that will answer most questions, even checking for voter registration details.”

“Electorates should also look out for CSOs that are conducting voter awareness in some remote constituencies throughout the country.

“Voter information and messages will continue to be disseminated through these mediums therefore electorates should listen out.”

The Chief Electoral Officer said awareness is an expensive exercise but with the support the Australian Government, European Union and UNDP through the Strengthening the Electoral Cycle of Solomon Islands Project (SECSIP), voter education and awareness activities are able to be rolled out.

“We would like to do more to reach out to the most remote citizens but we can only go as far as where money takes us.”

Mr Saitala said voter education and awareness will continue throughout the BVR phases and ahead of the National General Election in 2019.

“A well-informed electorate is essential to any electoral process; it enhances the quality of the election as well as the elected body and as such, it’s an essential building-block of a meaningful democracy.”

He encourages electorates to listen out and keep an eye on the mediums engaged by SIEO to disseminate voter information, in order to stay informed.