20 Jan 2016

Electoral roll inaccurate - Vanuatu Electoral Commission

8:17 pm on 20 January 2016

The Vanuatu Electoral Commission has told observers the electoral roll is inaccurate, as it has had difficulty deleting names of dead people from the list.

Ballot box in a Vanuatu election.

Ballot box in a Vanuatu election. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

It says it can only delete names of the dead if it has received confirmation from relatives, as on some outer islands there is no official records of people dying at their villages.

The Commission told observers it is doing its best to improve the situation with the introduction of a biometric system by 2020.

The leader of the Melanesian Spearhead Group observers, Sir Francis Billy Hilly, says the inaccuracy in the electoral roll could be a challenge.

"But the important thing is those who are in the roll should be given the opportunity to cast their vote. Because the law only allows those who register to be able to cast their vote and nobody else. So I hope that with that defect they have, everybody else will have registered to cast their vote, should get to the polling station and cast their vote."

Meanwhile, Sir Francis says transport issues may prevent some observers from being deployed to the outer islands for Friday's snap election.

He says there has been a technical issue on an Air Vanuatu aircraft and the airline has been forced to cancel some of its flights.

"We understand from the airline that they had some technical difficulties. But I hope we will be able to get to the bottom if there is still actually this problem. Otherwise going out to these various islands and polling stations will be our biggest challenge, in my opinion."

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