Former Supervisor of Elections and constitutional lawyer, Jon Apted says today with absolutely no public consultation, laws are being passed that will disproportionately burden many married women and members of a community who do not use their birth names in everyday life.
Apted has posted on his facebook page that some members of that community are given long names at birth for traditional reasons, which they later shorten for practicality’s sake.
He says the new laws will require them to go either to a Government Office to amend their birth certificate name or to Elections officials to amend their voter registration.
Apted says failing this, they may not receive a new voter registration card and lose their right to vote.
He says if their birth details are not amended, it would also require them to amend all other official records that contain their name to match their birth name, when their IDs expire.
Apted says this is not a requirement in countries like England, Australia, New Zealand or the USA.
The former Supervisor of Elections says in his opinion, it is completely unnecessary.
Apted says if the Fijian Elections Office needs birth registration for ID verification, they can take the voter’s birth registration number details as additional data while allowing people to use their normal names for official purposes.
He questions if it works for COVID-19 vaccination, why can’t it work for other purposes.
Apted says it is unclear how this will work for those without birth certificates or those who were born overseas and who use names that are not their birth names.
He asks why burden so many people at the risk of losing their fundamental right to vote, like this.
Apted further says every voter has a Voter ID with their photo also on the database, where a software should be able to identify duplicates.
The Electoral Registration of Voters Amendment Bill, the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages Amendment Bill and the Interpretation Amendment Bill have been passed in parliament.
Click to read: Electoral Registration of Voters Amendment Bill
Click to read: A Bill for an Act to Amend the Interpretation Act 1967
Stay tuned for the latest news on our radio stations