There were numerous incidents in last week’s Port Vila Municipal Council election where people holding the RED voting cards for Port Vila were not allowed to vote.
The Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Martin Tete, explains that the main reason for this is that these people do not reside within the Port Vila Urban Electoral Ward Boundaries (PVUEWB), which is shown in the accompanying map.
“This map of the Port Vila Urban Electoral Ward Boundaries has been in existence since 1980. For anyone to say they don’t know this municipal map, does not make sense,” he insists.
“This map is in the Port Vila Municipality Definition of Boundaries Declaration Order No. 19 of 1980. This map is also in the Municipalities Act (CAP 126).”
“When we go to the Parliamentary Election, we use the Representation of the People’s Act (CAP 146). Its boundary is different. It’s a larger constituency. When we come to provincial elections under the Decentralization Act we use smaller constituencies.
“When we come to the municipalities, we use the Municipalities Act where we have closed wards.
“In the case of Port Vila, the division of these wards is found in this map. This map is a legal document found in CAP 126.
“Anyone who wishes to contest and allowed to vote must reside in these wards.
“It does not say anything about place of work because some people work inside the Port Vila ward areas but they reside outside.
“The law says you must reside in the ward, not at Man Ples or Bladininaire or other such places on the periphery of Port Vila. But it says you must not reside outside of the Port Vila Urban Electoral Ward Boundaries,” Chairman Tete explains.
The area of the map was divided into four areas before and now five wards. Malapoa/Tagabe Ward, Anabrou/Melcoffee, Freswota/Tasariki Ward, Centre Ward and South Ward – five wards in all.
Malapoa takes in Kawaenu Field to the Unelco structure on the edge of the basketball courts, directly up past Malapoa College Field cross the road to the TVL facilities back down around Malapoa College and down to the sea. That’s the area of Malapoa, not beyond that.
“Man Ples, Malapoa Estate, Blacksand are all not inside the PVUEWB. So, this is the legal map of Port Vila constituency,” Mr. Tete continues.
“So, when we come to the national election, this whole boundary Port Vila is one constituency, he explains.
In Municipal elections, a person must reside in the area of the wards to legally allow him/her to contest or vote.
“During the last Port Vila Municipal Council election some people held red cards, but they were not allowed to vote, the reason being that they had moved out of the Port Vila municipal area.
“The Electoral Office could not know when a person moved out of the PVM boundary.
“Each citizen, when he/she moved, they must go and declare to the Electoral Office and MUST change their voting card.
“It is their responsibility.
“Because they’ve moved to the rural, they must surrender their card and then change their card to a new one when they see an registration officer from the rural passes.
“Many don’t change their cards, they continue to hold on to them illegally.”
Those who move to Man Ples, Blacksand, Malapoa Estate, Bladiniare and End of Airport, must change their cards when a registration officer from rural passes, because they no longer reside inside the PV Municipal boundary, but outside.
“These are the people that electoral officers don’t allow them to vote because they no longer reside in Port Vila urban boundary but outside and continue to hold the Red card.
“In Representation of the People’s Act section 9 (1) on electoral lists it says that you will register to vote at the place where you reside.
“You cannot be at Man Ples, Bladriniare, Blacksand, Salili, or around there and register to vote in Port Vila. It is illegal.
“Those who hold cards and have the right to vote in Port Vila, these people come under an amendment of a Representation of the People’s Act No. 10 of 2012.
“This allows people living at Bladinaire, Blacksand, Man Ples, Malapoa, Salili, End of International Airport to hold red cards to vote in Parliamentary elections in Port Vila, but not municipal elections,” Tete explains.
All those people that Amendment No. 10 allows them to vote in Port Vila at general elections, can vote at NTM polling station.
But if they wish to vote in Port Vila during national elections, they must register and get the red card but to vote at NTM, not anywhere else and only at the general elections.
“You will see that during municipal elections, the NTM polling station is always closed.
“During general elections, NTM, Beverly Hills and Chief Andrew Pakoa polling stations will be open for those registered to vote in Port Vila constituency for people in those areas to vote for candidates in Port Vila but not during municipal elections.
“Amendment No.10 is for people of other islands living in rural Efate to vote in Port Vila constituency so their votes don’t affect the outcome of the elections for the people of Efate such as winning a seat from the people of Efate Rural,” Electoral Commission Chairman Tete explains.
“Every citizen of Vanuatu has a fundamental duty under Article Seven of the Constitution to respect the Constitution first and foremost.
“This means everyone must respect the boundary of Port Vila and must respect the boundary of Efate Rural,” he concludes emphasizing the message that it is illegal to reside at a rural area of Efate and vote in the Municipal election of Port Vila and people must respect the laws governing elections.