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Voters must be reminded not to ask for money: Parliamentary committee

The office of the Electoral Commissioner (O.E.C.) is being called upon to conduct a public awareness campaign to warn voters that the ongoing practice of asking candidates for money is illegal. 

The call comes from Parliament’s Standing Orders, Electoral, Petition and Constitutional Offices Committee and is outlined in a review of the Electoral Commissioner's Annual Reports between 2015 and 2018. 

“The Committee recommends that the Commissioner should considering rearranging its policies to promote the importance of voting to avoid [the] common issue that people only votes when compensated by candidates," the review says. 

“The Committee recommends emphasising to the public that it is a crime to ask candidates for money or anything related,” says the Committee report."

According to the 25 page report, during its committee hearings the O.E.C. outlined the ongoing challenges of regulating elections.

“The Electoral roll was one challenge that the Commission is still facing and they believe that if they are well monitored then the problem will be put to a minimum. 

"One of the challenges encountered by the Commission in 2015-2016 was the limited resources available to support the recruitment of the new electoral officers to replace those who withdrew.”

Non-voting by eligible citizens is another continuing challenge.

The Commission believes this will be an ongoing challenge therefore enforces awareness programs so the public are well informed of the importance of voting and electing leaders for the country.

A newly approved Electoral Law makes it mandatory for voters to register and vote in their respective villages; however, those who hold chiefly titles have the option to vote in the villages they reside or the villages they hold the chiefly titles.

The Committee's report also suggests the O.E.C. consider developing a strategy to ensure findings and information provided by Government Ministries and agencies are consistent and that financial data is included in its annual financial statements. 

The Committee has noted auditor’s reports are often absent from financial statements which confirm and validate the actual spending of the monies allotted by government to each Ministry.  

The hearings for the annual reports were held in April to May 2019.

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