Sheena Boniface is the new Chief Registration Officer |09 August 2022
‘Voter education campaign to be intensified’
The newly appointed Chief Registration Officer, Sheena Boniface, says there is a need to continuously sensitise the population on the importance of elections, registration as well as voter education, regardless if it is an election year or not.
She made the statement in an exclusive interview to Seychelles NATION yesterday at the Electoral Commission’s headquarters in Sacos Tower, Victoria.
This follows her appointment on August 3, in accordance with Section 3(1)(a) of the Elections Act.
Ms Boniface, 31, who joined the Electoral Commission back in September 2019 as a Registration Officer, holds a Masters’ Degree in Electoral Policy and Administration.
She has been involved with various education programmes to entice eligible voters to register. Between August and November last year, she spearheaded an outreach programme in post-secondary institutions, targeting first-time voters.
“We decided it was better to go to them instead of waiting on them to come to us because if we do, we will have a similar situation like the last elections in 2020, where we had an influx of people registering at the last minute,” she said.
The outreach programme resumed this year and according to her, so far, five institutions have been targeted, namely, the Maritime Training Academy, the Seychelles Institute of Agriculture and Horticulture, the Seychelles Institute of Art and Design, Seychelles Advanced Level Studies and the Seychelles Institute of Technology.
The Chief Registration Officer said she has noticed an increase in the number of applications compared to the previous year, with an average monthly registrations of between thirty and sixty first-time voters, in some institutions.
“The institutions have welcomed us and our initiative because when we go there we do not just register first-time voters but sensitise them as well on the function of the commission. We show them the way we work and the importance of democracy and how as a citizen they have a right to register and vote,” said Ms Boniface.
Other than targeting post-secondary institutions, the registration officers have also been hosting professional development programmes with teachers. Topics include democracy, electoral procedures, nomination and registration of political parties, among others.
“It is interesting because they are fascinated by what they learn through these exercises and what we have observed is that part of the population still lacks knowledge of the electoral process as a democratic tool,” said Ms Boniface.
She added part of her mandate as the new Chief Registration Officer, will be to ensure the education campaign intensifies among the population.
“Many think that the sole job of a Chief Registration Officer is to keep an updated register. Yes it is important, but there are many other aspects such as finding innovative and interesting ways to get voters to come forward to register. I see this as an important part of my mandate,” she added.
Ms Boniface was selected through an interview process and according to the Chief Electoral Officer, Manuella Amesbury, she has been able to prove herself since joining the team in 2019 as a registration officer.
She said Ms Boniface has grown, showing all the qualities that is required for such a key post.
“This is an important post under the Elections Act and Ms Boniface has the qualities needed, such as discipline, the urge to learn and to adapt to innovative ways of doing things at the commission. She is not only reliable but she can also lead a team,” said Mrs Amesbury.
Ms Boniface, who is leading a team of seven registration officers on the three main islands, has appealed to registered and non-registered voters to do their civic duty and register or update their names on the voters’ list, respectively. Voter registration is an ongoing process.
Meanwhile, she said her officers are continuing with their outreach programme and media campaign, which include radio and television programmes and posters in public places.
“You have been given a right and it comes with responsibility, so as responsible citizens, do your duty and check your names. Parents encourage your children to come forward and take part in this democratic process. Come election time we should all be ready instead of rushing at the last minute, which might seem long and complex,” she advised.
The last voters’ register was certified on March 31, 2022, with a total of 73,849 voters, comprising 37,785 females and 36,064 males.