23 Apr 2010

Tonga warned big improvements are needed in its electoral bureaucracy

7:20 pm on 23 April 2010

The Tonga Government has been told that its electoral process needs a major overhaul ahead of elections in November under new democracy reforms.

The reforms will allow for commoners to elect two thirds of the legislature for the first time, with the MPs drawn from 17 single seat electorates.

The Government has already announced plans for voters to have identification cards, but Canterbury University political scientist, Dr Malakai Koloamatangi, says this should be the least of its concerns.

He says the Tongan bureaucracy has to be improved to ensure better management of the voting process.

"The need to concentrate on improving the work of the Electoral Office, which is attached to the Prime Minister's Office. The Supervisor of Elections for example, he has to be given the right resources. For example, how do you count the votes afterwards. Counting in Tonga is still done manually."