Improving electoral system can cut costs: Webster

National

THE updating of the common roll cost about half a billion kina, Dr Thomas Webster says.
Apart from that, the actual delivery of the elections such as the conduct of polling, payment of logistics and allowances for security and electoral officials costs quite a lot, he said.
Webster, a former director of the National Research Institute, told a local radio station yesterday that the costs and ways to improve the electoral system must be looked into.
“Then, after the election, we have this court of disputed returns. The judges spend a whole lot of time hearing election cases. The Electoral Commission has to pay for lawyers,” he said.
He said a “conservative estimate” of the total cost could run into “one or two billion kina”.
“That’s the amount of money which we can (use to) build a classroom or health facility,” he said.
“We need to improve (now) otherwise we will just go down the slippery slope of a weakening government system and have less respect for it.
“We can use the money we are spending unnecessarily on elections viably and still have a good election process.”
Webster said the governance system must be improved first before the electoral system.
“No matter how much time and effort we spend on improving the electoral system, it will still be a target because the whole government system has loopholes that can be abused.”

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