Government plans to introduce compulsory voting

The Vanuatu Government is considering introducing a law into Parliament to ensure voting is compulsory for all eligible voters.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs, Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau, said such a law would mean “at every General Election eligible voters aged 18 years and over must present to a polling station to vote.”

He says the Government wants to make this change because it believes many people are not taking their right to vote seriously even though the Government and aid donors spend “a huge amount of money to run an election”.

“As a nation, people should know where the nation is heading [and contribute to that],” he said.

“While the majority of people benefit from the Government, often, only a few people are voting, so the Government wants to make sure voting is a must for everyone.

“Under the Constitution, citizens have the right to vote for their own candidates but to make voting compulsory a new law must be introduced into the Parliament and passed.

In an info gram published by the Vanuatu Media Association, 51 per cent of voters casted their votes during the 2020 general election.

Minister Kalsakau says every citizen should see exercising their right to vote for a government as an important responsibility.

“Eligible voters need to vote so they can either agree or disagree on how a government is running their country,” he said.

He says it is not a good when eligible voters don’t vote but later complain about government services.

VBTC spoke to some members of the public about their views on compulsory voting.

One village chief told VBTC he has seen a drop-off in voter numbers but more complaints that the government is not working in accordance with voter wishes. He believes every eligible voter must vote.

One young man told VBTC, “Voting is good, it gives you a voice in Parliament because if you don’t vote, you can’t raise your concerns or complains because you have not exercised your right to vote.”

Minister Kalsakau says a bill will go to Parliament in the next Parliamentary Sitting in August.

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