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The Cook Islands electoral office has started conducting postal and advance voting ahead of the June 14 polls.
Chief electoral officer Taggy Tangimetua said there were a number of voters who were eligible to vote via the postal and advance voting.
Postal voting is given to any registered elector currently outside of the Cook Islands and will not be in the constituency on election day.
This made up two per cent of the total votes counted in the 2014 elections.
Most of these postal votes in the last elections were from students studying overseas and those who were away for medical reasons or for a period of less than three months.
Of the total votes posted in 2014 elections, only 57 per cent were returned and the Elections Office is hoping for a better response in this year’s elections.
In advance voting, electors, who were unlikely to be in their constituency for whatever reason on election day, are allowed to vote before the actual election.
“We have started votes in advance and postal voting. People who are leaving the country and will not be here on the election day can visit the Elections Office from 9am to 1pm on the working days to cast their vote,” Tangimetua said.
“There are also a number of voters who are eligible for postal voting.
They have listed their postal contacts in their registration and we are working on posting the ballot papers to these addresses.”
The other three voting methods are special voting (declaration), special care and ordinary voting.
Special voting or vote by declaration is for those electors who since the closing of the rolls have become qualified - turned 18 years of age; or spent three months in the constituency but did not register or simply forgot to register or change their elector details.
Special care voting is for those electors who are unable to attend the booth due to illness or disability.
An ordinary vote is the simplest way to vote at the polling booth for those whose names appear on the electoral roll. This the method used by most electors.
The 2018 elections will see 58 candidates contesting under the banner of Cook Islands Party, Democratic Party, One Cook Islands (OCI), Independent, Titikaveka Oire and Alternative Must Ravenga Openga for 24 seats.
Meanwhile, the “ELECT” Cook Islands Youth Parliament will be held this month, from May 15-17.
Organised by the Cook Islands National Youth Council, it is aimed at young Cook Islanders aged 18-35 and will increase awareness of the importance of Cook Islands youth voting in the election on June 14.
“This is particularly significant in light of the upcoming political elections on June 14,” said youth council president Sieni Tiraa.
The meeting will include a two-day workshop which will aim to explain the processes which occur within parliament during election time. The event is intended to provide a platform for youth to be involved in political discussion and participate in the processes.
“Our young people are our future politicians, our future leaders,” said Tiraa.
“It is incredibly important that they play an active role, and are given a voice which is listened to, when deciding how our country is run. This is the country they’ll one day lead.”
Participants in the ELECT Youth Parliament will come from a range of community, government, and non-government roles.
Workshops will deliver a range of presentations from politicians, parliamentarians and those who have been active in encouraging youth participation in politics. There will be an opportunity for participants to visit Parliament House, meet with the Speaker of the House, and take part in a debate on the Crimes Bill in the setting of a parliamentary sitting.
“There is some social stigma in the Cook Islands around youth being involved in politics. Youth are often considered as being too inexperienced and not having earned their way to becoming politicians through experience,” says CINYC vice-president, Liam Kokaua.
“We hope this event will inspire our current generation of young adults to learn more about politics, how elections and parliament actually works, and even consider running for election themselves sometime in the near future.”
Participants from all of the Southern Group islands will be attending, and the northern islands will be represented.
Cook Islands National Youth Council is grateful for the support of the Cook Islands government through the Social Impact Fund and Air Rarotonga for their sponsorship of two participants from each of the Southern Group islands to attend ELECT.
SOURCE: COOK ISLANDS NEWS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
Media Helping Media