Lessons Learned from the 2024 Solomon Islands Joint Elections in April 2024

    Vanuatu was a member of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) observer group, which attended the joint election in the Solomon Islands.

    The Vanuatu Government nominated its representative, Lawson Samuel, who currently serves as the Secretary of the Vanuatu Law Reform Commission, to be part of the PIF observer's group.

    Following the election, Mr. Samuel wrote to the Vanuatu Electoral Commission, detailing his observations and lessons learned from the joint election.

    He suggested that Vanuatu consider possible electoral reforms to facilitate cheaper, more credible, and more efficient voting procedures in the future.

    The Secretary of the VLRC also noted that the Pacific Islands Forum Observer Group is yet to publish a formal report on the joint election of 17th April 2024.

    Solomon Islands general elections held every four years, and the 50 members are directly elected from the 50 single-member constituencies. Additionally, provincial assembly elections also held every four years, and a member is directly elected from the single-member wards.

    As part from the electoral reform options, the Vanuatu Electoral Commission could also consider the following recommendations in the future:
    1. Phase out the election budget into four years immediately after an election to ensure available financial resources to begin preparation early and lessen the burden if there is a snap election. For example, an election that costs 60 million vatu could request an NPP of 15 million each year before any election.
    2. Outsourcing the printing of ballot papers should be considered in terms of quality of printing and cost.

    As Vanuatu is scheduled to hold the next national elections in December 2026, we recommend that between 2025 and 2026, the Vanuatu Electoral Office can do a study tour to the Solomon Islands to gather more insight on the use of single ballot papers and the verification process to give more credibility to their elections.

    One option is to find out when the remaining two provincial assemblies would be conducted and observe the use of single ballot papers and the verification process.

    The 2024 Solomon Islands joint election was one of the elections where preparations were advanced in the early stages due to the financial assistance provided to the Electoral Commission.

    It appears that there was also widespread voter awareness to empower people to make sound judgments about voting on polling day.

    These observations are not only from an electoral reform perspective but also aim to boost learning and sharing of experiences between Electoral Management Bodies (EMB) within Melanesia and the greater Pacific community.

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