Early election adds to costs

RAROTONGA – The 2018 general election to be held on Thursday next week will cost the taxpayers a total of $300,000 (US$211,000).

Chief electoral officer Taggy Tangimetua said the budget for this year’s election was similar to the 2014 elections.

However, she said they did not use up the whole $300,000 that was allocated for the last election.

“We managed to save some money from the $300,000 that was budgeted for the last elections. However, we are likely to use all of the $300,000 that has been allocated for this year’s elections,” Tangimetua said.

The cost of air and sea freight has taken up a large portion of the total budget for the 2018 election.

Tangimetua said the shipping cost to send ballot boxes and election officers to the northern group islands has increased significantly from the 2014 elections.

“The freight to bring the ballot boxes, which came from the New Zealand Electoral Commission, was also higher than anticipated,” she said.

“Initially, we planned to bring the ballot boxes by sea, assuming the elections to take place in either September or October. Since the election was called in earlier, we had to fly those ballot boxes over to Rarotonga and the freight cost was pretty high.”

Tangimetua said the $300,000 budget would be sufficient to successfully conduct the 2018 elections.

However, she said it would not cover any cost associated with petitions following the elections.

Meanwhile, the casting of votes in the 2018 elections started on Saturday on the northern group island of Palmerston, followed by Nassau.

Palmerston is part of the Avatiu-Ruatonga-Palmerston (RAPPA) constituency, while Nassau belongs to the Pukapuka-Nassau constituency.

“I haven’t received the total number of voters from the Palmerston voting yet, but from the information I have received so far, the voting on the island went well,” Tangimetua said.

The sealed ballot boxes from Palmerston and Nassau will travel to Pukapuka next week, where the Nassau ballot box will be opened for counting alongside the votes from Pukapuka.

The votes from the Palmerston ballot box will be included in the final count as soon as it gets to Rarotonga.

Tangimetua earlier stated that all the ballot boxes from the northern group islands are expected to arrive in Rarotonga by June 21 for the final count.

A total of 10,317 voters from 24 constituencies will take part in the 2018 general elections.

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