Presiding Officer’s Training Launch

Statement by the Supervisor of Elections

Mr Mohammed Saneem

Presiding Officer’s Training Launch

FEO HQ – Suva – 07th February, 2018 – 8:00am

The Supervisor of Elections, Mr Mohammed Saneem

FEO Directors;

Presiding and Assistant Officers trainees;

Invited Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka and a warm welcome to the Presiding Officers Training for the 2018 General Election.

Congratulations on your shortlisting to be the Polling station managers on Election Day or during Pre-poll. On the date of polling, you all will be the senior most election officials on the ground and in-charge of the polling place. This is a tremendous responsibility and we all believe that each of you have proven on merit that you are capable of the task.

I would like to thank all the FEO trainers for their excellent efforts these past couple of months training the 10,000 plus applicants and assessing them for the positions. So far we have run 546 training sessions.

Training commences for Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers

Ladies and Gentlemen, this 1 day training is an essential component for preparing you to manage polling. It will prepare you for all the tasks that you have to undertake and also to administer. Do not underestimate the importance of any task. All of them are important. I repeat – all of them are important.

The Presiding Officers manual will be your guide and it will have all the answers you may have. It has been designed by experts and has stood the test of the 2014 General Election. For those who may be doing this a second time, we assure you that the contents of the manual have been thoroughly reviewed and comprehensively tested to allow users to implement smooth polling day operations.

If I were you, I would read this manual inside out as many times as possible to prepare myself for the task.

The 2014 General Election and the 2018 General Election pose an exciting opportunity to Fijians that we never had before – the opportunity to run the Country’s election ourselves.

Yes – ordinary Fijians now have the opportunity to be polling officials, counting officials, postal vote officials etc etc. So, when I submit the results to the Electoral Commission after the election – I will gladly tell them that I am here to deliver the final results from all polling stations around the country on behalf of some 15,000 Fijians. This is the will of the Fijian People!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we all must ensure that we work according to the Constitution, the laws and the Electoral Commission guidelines.

The team at FEO has transferred all the necessary legal requirements into the manuals for you. Use the manuals. Follow all instructions to the letter. Do not invent/ improvise the processes to suit yourself. There will be polling agents and observers that will be trained to check that you follow all the procedures.

I want to specially mention that every election official must ensure that they do not get influenced by external factors in conducting their tasks. Do not change the order of events just because you may have accessed social media and find that someone is questioning any process.

Actually you may find several individuals who may want to create false rumors and unsubstantiated claims just to earn sympathy and maybe even some votes. It is my and the FEO Communications team’s responsibility to deal with Public Relations matters.

Then there are some individuals who continue to rut and harp about the concept of ‘free and fair elections’ but deliberately ignore or even do not know the basic tenets of a free and fair election. They are full of complaints and unsubstantiated allegations. Then there are some who cook up stories about 2014 General Election or even make their own version of the election processes.

In terms of risk – the FEO has elevated misinformation to the highest risk level.

Therefore ladies and gentlemen, the onus is on each and everyone who is appointed election official to ensure that they follow the procedures to the letter. I urge you to be polite, tolerant and always produce the best of the best customer service personalities you can on the day.

Every Fijian must be given the best service – they deserve nothing less. Every vote is valuable and as officials from the Election Management Body, we must treat all voters equally and with dignity.

Remember that a voter at the polling station is the most important person in the country. Help anyone that seeks it. As the Returning Officer for the Country it is my vision that when a voter returns from a polling place he/she is happy and content that we have served them well.

I wish you all the very best in the training and look forward to working with you as we deliver the 2018 General Election.

Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu and Dhanyabadh.

…ends…

 

 

 

Presiding Officer’s Training Launch

Statement by Mr Edwin Nand

Acting Director Stratgic Development and Communication

Presiding Officer’s Training Launch

FEO HQ – Suva – 05th February, 2018 – 11:00am

Mr Edwin Nand, Acting Director Strategic Development and Communications

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

The Fijian Elections Office is ready to begin training for Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers for the 2018 General Election.

Presiding Officers will have a one day training program from the 08 February 2018 – which is this Thursday and we expect to complete by 03 March 2018.

For this week – Week 1, training will be from Thursday to Saturday from 7.30am to 5.00pm at the following venues:

  1. FEO Conference Room [Saturday only]
  2. Fiji National Council for Disabled Persons [FNCDP]
  3. Kshatriya Hall – Lower Hall
  4. Kshatriya Hall – Upper Hall
  5. Studio Six Conference Room
  6. Nausori Village Hall
  7. Sila Central High School – 3 venues [Saturday only]
  8. Lautoka Civic Centre
  9. Nadi Civic Centre [Saturday only]
  10. Kshatriya Hall –Labasa

We are targeting 25 participants for each training session and based on the number of polling stations we will be training 4500 officials by 03 March 2018.

This week alone, we expect to collectively train 625 officials.

Ladies and gentlemen, following the successful completion of the 2018 General Election – Election Officials Recruitment Drive last month, we have received 17,016 applications.

While recruitment was still going on, we had begun half-day trainings – and from those trainings, we identified individuals who qualify for training as Presiding and Assistant Presiding Officers.

Mr Edwin Nand, Acting Director Strategic Development and Communications

Applicants were selected on merit after sitting a test in the half-day Election Officials training.

Appointments for Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers will only be made at the end of the full day training based on their tests results and assessment.

We would like to request those who have been chosen to attend this training to arrive at the venues on time so that there are no delays.

In the coming weeks, the Fijian Elections Office will be contacting applicants who will be allocated training dates in weeks 2 and 3 of the program.

Please note that not ALL applicants who attended the half day training will be called in for this full day training – these sessions are only for Fijians who scored 85 percent and above in their assessment.

The Fijian Elections Office will also be publishing the names of trainees on a weekly basis on our website and social media pages. Venues will also be made available through these channels.

Please note that our 1501 call centre is still operational and staff are on hand to attend to queries from Election Official applicants.

Following the completion of training, the FEO will issue contracts to Election Officials. Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers will receive their contracts from 17 March 2018 to 24 March 2018.

Other Election Officials including Venue Queue Controllers, Inside Queue Controllers, Identification Officers, Ballot Paper Issuers, Ballot Box Guard will receive their contracts from 05 March 2018 to 16 March 2018.

From the 20th of February we will upload on our website the list of Election Officials for each polling station and they will have to attend to their respective FEO Divisional Offices to receive their contracts.

Ladies and gentlemen, these officials will be responsible for ensuring a smooth and uninterrupted conduct of polling at their respective venues.

The FEO has invested in ensuring that they are fully trained and ready to deliver come Election Day, and we are confident in their ability to manage polling venues.

Apart from this, Election Officials will also be ambassadors for the Fijian Elections Office and we expect the highest level of professionalism and respect from each of them.

To those who have been selected for training, I wish you the best of luck and look forward to working with you.

Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu and Dhanyabadh.

…ends…

DAV Girls College Prefects Induction Ceremony

Statement by the Supervisor of Elections

Mr Mohammed Saneem

DAV Girls College Prefects Induction Ceremony

Suva – 02nd February, 2018 – 9:00am

The Supervisor of Elections, Mr Mohammed Saneem at the Prefect’s Induction at DAV College, Suva

The Acting Principal; School Manager; Teachers; Parents; Invited Guests; and Students;

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

I am honored to be here with you all on this joyous and important occasion.

You can tell by the looks on the faces of these children what this function means to them as those who are badged today become important pillars in the school structure this year.

This badge that prefects will receive today is not just an ornament for your school uniform. It is a responsibility that you will carry for the rest of the year.

While this responsibility is with you for this year, it passes on to someone else next year – but the qualities of the badge, the responsibility that you have as a leader, you will carry with you for a lifetime.

This is because you ALL have the potential to become a leader. You all have the potential to become the future leaders of this nation. You have the potential to become a future teacher or principal at this school.

The administrators of this school have seen this potential in you and have chosen you for this important role.

This morning, I would like to share with you some qualities that I personally believe should be present in a good leader.

A good leader starts with a greeting and leaves with a handshake. The impression you start with and the impression you leave with must always be positive. A smile goes a long way and a pat on the back is a lifetime memory.

A good leader is always focused and keeps the team in the same direction. This means the leader does not lose sight of the goal, keeps working towards it and also motivates the team to strive towards success.

Honesty and integrity. Two very important qualities of a leader. You must carry out your duties as a leader with utmost honesty and integrity as it determines your character.

Your character is defined by your confidence and your humility. Because if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. You must be bold and fearless and at the same time, be humble.

Another key ingredient that makes good leaders is mentorship. The knowledge imparted by parents and teachers is very important as it affects what students learn.

My message to parents and teachers is to provide these students with the right knowledge, encourage them, motivate them and more importantly inspire them.

As the Supervisor of Elections, I frequently come across situations where people question my actions. You might have seen this happening a lot on TV recently and as we approach the election, expect more of this to happen.

I have a very simple principle that I operate with and here it is:

Imagine if you have $86,400 in your bank account and someone stole $10 from you. Would you be upset and throw away all your $86,390 in hopes of getting back at the person who took $10 from you? Or would you move on and live with the $86,390?

Exactly. We all would move on and live with that $86,390.

Similarly ladies and gentlemen, we have 86,400 seconds in a day. So don’t let someone’s negative 10 seconds ruin the rest of the 86,390 seconds.

Don’t sweat on the small stuff. Life is greater than that.

To the prefects, I wish you all the best in your endeavors and to all the students, I encourage you to strive for success to try and prove to your teachers and parents that you can become good leaders.

Thank you very much and all the best.

Vinaka.

Rakiraki Voter Service Centre Opening

Statement by Electoral Commissioner

Mr Simione Naiduki

Rakiraki Voter Service Centre Opening

Rakiraki – 23rd January 2018 – 12:00noon

Opening of the Rakiraki Voter Services Centre

Fellow Electoral Commissioners, Roko Tui Ra, Roko Tui Nadarivatu, Commissioner Western, Divisional Planning Officer Western, Provincial Administrator Ra, Acting CEO Rakiraki Town Council, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Bula Vinaka!

It is my great pleasure to be here this morning to officiate at the opening of the Voter Services Centre here in Rakiraki on behalf of the Chairperson.

Unfortunately, the Chairperson had to attend to some urgent work in Suva and could not be here today. He sends his apologies.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Voter Services Centre we will open today will be the 7th around the country. We already have such Centres in Nausori, Suva, Savusavu, Nadi, Labasa and Lautoka.

As we all know, this is an election year and as such the Electoral Commission has decided to ensure we expand throughout key centres in Fiji to facilitate voter services.

From today, at this Centre, you can register as a new voter if you not already registered, you can verify your voter details, make changes to your personal details or even get a replacement card.

We already have 624,404 persons on the voter list for 2018 Election. The Rakiraki Centre will cover 20,177 voters at the minimum. There are 95 polling venues in the Rakiraki area office for FEO.

Under the 2013 Constitution, the whole country is a single Constituency. This means there is no requirement to divide Fijians based on ethnicity or race when they come to vote.

The Multinational Observers for 2014 found this to be a positive element for Fiji. That is why we do not ask you about your race or ethnicity when you register. It is irrelevant information as far as the electoral system is concerned.

We are looking forward to delivering excellent services to Rakiraki.

Thank you all for your attendance here this morning.

Vinaka Vakalevu.

…ends…

Publications Launch event by the Electoral Commission and the Fijian Elections Office

Introductory Statement by the Supervisor of Elections

Mr Mohammed Saneem

2018 General Election Publications Launch

Suva – 18th January, 2018 – 3:00pm

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Members of the Electoral Commission, Members of the Diplomatic Community, The Commissioner of Police, Invited guests, Colleagues from the Fijian Elections Office, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Bula Vinaka and welcome to this important event this afternoon.

Today marks a significant milestone achievement for the Fijian Elections Office as we will be launching a few essential compilations heading to the 2018 General Election.

This afternoon, the Electoral Commission will be launching the Candidates Handbook, Media Handbook, the Provisional List of Polling Venues and the 1st Provisional Voter list for the 2018 General Election.

The 2015 – 2019 Strategic Plan of the Fijian Elections Office setup the framework for Capacity development in elections in Fiji. We have already introduced the Polling Agents handbook last year to assist the Political Parties in their capacity building programs with their agents. We sent 1000 copies of the Handbook to each Political Party for their distribution and use.

The FEO also conducted direct training of Political Parties in last quarter of 2017 to build capacity of Party executives in terms of the electoral process and the legal framework. Out of the 7 registered parties, 5 parties attended the workshops that I personally conducted. I am sure, parties will be able to better understand the electoral process now than before.

In 2014, the FEO managed to compile and release the provisional voter list sometimes in June some 3 months before the Election. We activated the 545 sms platform to allow voters to check where they are assigned to vote.

The FEO received 600,000 queries on this platform, 100,000 on Election Day alone. In 2018 we are releasing the first provisional right now in January.

My colleagues will be explaining the particulars relating to other publications in a few moments. The Fijian Elections Office thanks the continuous support and guidance of the Electoral Commission and appreciates the input of the Commission in the publications we do.

I will speak no further but invite the Chairperson, Mr. Chandra to please come and deliver his keynote address this afternoon.

 

Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission

Mr Suresh Chandra

2018 General Election Publications Launch

Suva – 18th January, 2018 – 3:00pm

Fellow Electoral Commissioners, Heads and Members of the Diplomatic Corp, Leaders and members of Political Parties, The Commissioner of Police, Members of the Media, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very warm welcome to you all this afternoon.

Today, we will launch some important publications that will be used in preparation for, during and after the 2018 General Election.

This afternoon, we will unveil to you all, the Candidates Handbook, the Media Handbook, the Provisional Voter List and the Provisional Polling Venue List.

Ladies and gentlemen, generally in Fiji, an election is viewed as an exercise to be conducted by the Electoral Office. It is viewed as something that is the complete responsibility of the Electoral Office and at the end of the Election, after the results, when the observers do a report, the whole report is sort of slapped onto the Electoral Office as – ‘this is your report’.

But that is not the case. An election is something that deals with several stakeholders. For instance, one – yes, of course, the Electoral Office. But two is Parliament because Parliament makes the laws based on which elections are held.

Then there is the Parliamentary Standing Committee. The Parliamentary standing committee is charged with reviewing electoral reports and then dealing with the necessary legal requirement that need to be looked at. Then of course there are political parties. The political parties are the key players in an election so they cannot be said to be not part of the elections.

Speaking generally, looking at the world politics, political parties are sometimes good players and political parties are sometimes bad players.

In some countries, political parties so powerful they even stop people from going into polling stations. They are so rich that they buy votes. But in Fiji we have laws that protect Fijians against that.

Then we have voters. Voters are the most essential component for an election. They are the whole reason why there is an election.

And then, we have the media. The media is sort of the conduit between a voter and the information. Whatever information the media produces is absorbed by the voter and it is up to the voter to then siphon the information for one that is most relevant it and then use it to determine who he or she votes for.

Media also plays another important role in terms of the being the voice of individual voters by highlighting matters of national importance.

It is very important that the media ensures that it is reporting facts. Facts that are verifiable. Facts that have been actually verified.

It is not sufficient for the media organization to report if one politician stands and says, ‘OK, the river has dried up’, and the media just says that the river has dried up without even checking if the river is actually flooded.

Media also plays a significant role in terms of transmitting electoral information from the Electoral Office to the voter. In this sense, the media must make sure that the information that it transmits from the Fijian Elections Office [FEO] or from the Electoral Commission is reported accurately. Don’t lose it in paraphrasing.

The FEO informs us that there was a case where we published a feature article and the title of the feature article was amended without consent of the FEO. This must have caused some confusion but it was sufficiently covered in the article.

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, the Electoral Act, the Political Parties Act and the Registration of Voters Act specifically lays out the roles and responsibilities of parties and the media. The FEO has compiled all these responsibilities in booklets to assist the media and the candidates to understand their roles within the process. We believe that once all stakeholders beef up their capacities on elections, it will contribute to the enhancement of the credibility of the elections. The concept of free and fair election does not only rest with the Electoral Commission. The concept of free and fair election is the responsibility of every stakeholder. And in this case, free and fair elections mean political parties, voters and the media and any other stakeholder must conform firstly to the legal principles. And secondly, they must respect the rights and beliefs of every other person.

The Candidates Handbook is designed, and it’s been produced in the major languages as well, to assist any potential candidate to understand the candidate requirements, the legal requirements as well as the process for elections.

The Media Handbook of course, is only in English to facilitate media organizationsin understanding the process and what they can and what they cannot cover.

I would like to congratulate the team at the FEO for the hard work they have done they have in producing these important booklets.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we are all aware, the election may be held between April and November this year. And it is a good thing that we have managed to produce some of these essential capacity building material in January 2018. I hope that it will be put to good use. Moving onto the Provisional Voters List.

Ladies and gentlemen, the provisional voters list, as the director will explain later on, this is the first time we are able to produce the first provisional voter list months away from an election.

This is to assist Fijians ascertain where they will be voting and in the event changes are necessary, they can do so.

I just hope it is not the case when it is election time, say sometime later on in the year, someone stands up and says, ‘I did not change my details’. At that time, you only have yourself to blame.

Another publication being launched today is the 2018 Provisional Polling Venue List. There were 1361 polling venues in 2014 and the numbers have increased to 1435 after assessments of polling venues in 2016 and 2017.

Ladies and gentlemen, these publications before you today are in line with the Commission’s theme – ‘Raising the Standards in the Delivery of Elections in Fiji.’ The materials and content for all publications have been well researched and thoroughly verified to be authentic, apolitical and transparent.

My fellow Commissioners and I have had the opportunity to sight the materials and we are impressed by the simplicity of the content especially since the material will be available for anyone to use.

And the Supervisor of Elections tells me that there will be more publications in the coming months as the FEO gears up to be in full elections mode by April, 2018.

With these few words, I wish the FEO all the best for their preparations.

Thank you for your attendance today ladies and gentlemen and I encourage you to peruse through these materials.

Vinaka Vakalevu

. …ends…

Vote of Thanks by the Supervisor of Elections

Mr Mohammed Saneem

2018 General Election Publications Launch

Suva – 18th January, 2018 – 3:00pm

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission,

Electoral Commissioners;

Heads and Members of the Diplomatic Corp,

Leaders and members of Political Parties,

Members of the Media,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and thank you all for attending the function this afternoon.

Ladies and gentlemen, it has been a busy few months for the staff at the Fijian Elections Office as they worked around the clock to have these material ready for the launch today.

At this juncture, I would like to offer my thanks to all those who contributed towards the success of the event today.

Firstly, a big vinaka vaka levu to the Electoral Commission Chairperson for your words of encouragement and motivation to my staff and to the Electoral Commissioners for approving these publications.

Representatives from the Diplomatic Corp, members of Political Parties and our stakeholders from the ESAG and EDAWG committees, thank you for your presence to witness this launch.

The staff of FEO who worked tirelessly to ensure that the content and material for these publications were prepared on time also deserve congratulations.

Director Operations and her team have performed exceptionally in finalizing the Provisional Voter List and the Provisional Polling Venue List.

The Communications Team has also delivered a Media Handbook that can stand alongside international publications of a similar nature, reflecting the high standards that the FEO sets for itself.

The Legal Procedures team – Ana Mataiciwa and Mesake Dawai have conducted thorough research in their effort to compile content for the Candidates Handbook. I acknowledge our partnership with International IDEA who have supported the compilation of the handbook.

The Corporate Team including Procurement and Finance have also met some very tight deadlines and sometimes gone out of their way to ensure that all publications were produced on time and ready for launch today.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the FEO has nearly completed another milestone event this month.

We have managed to distribute 600,000 pocket calendars and 17,000 desktop calendars around the country. Pocket calendars were directly sent to each school to be distributed to students.

This Project was handled by Mr. Arin Kumar, public relations Officer. Arin has worked very hard the last couple of weeks and I invite the Chairperson, Mr. Chandra to please present Arin with this Award in recognition of his dedication and commitment. Well done Arin.

Ladies and Gentlemen, before I conclude, here is a snapshot of the 2018 General Election based on the 31 December 2017 data:

The Fijian Elections Office has completed the adjudication exercise of the National Register of Voters Data for the year 2017. The total number of Registered Voters stands at 624,404 out of which 308,780 are females and 315,624 are males.

The distribution of voters are as follows. The Central Division has 263,506 votes followed by western division with 232,606 and northern having 94,408 and eastern recorded 26,320 voters. At the conclusion of the overseas voter registration drive the FEO has recorded 7,564 voters all of who have to apply for a postal vote once election date is announced.

The FEO has also confirmed that it will operate 1435 Polling venues around the country. Prepoll will be conducted in 589 of these venues and the remainder 846 will vote on election day. Based on the voter data as at 31 December 2017, the FEO calculates it will operate 1551 polling stations on election day.

The total number of voters (without factoring any voter who may apply for a postal vote) who are ideally expected to vote on election day stands at 550,735 and those under Prepoll arrangements are 73,669. The 7,564 voters registered overseas will have to apply for a postal vote once the election date is announced.

We are also able to calculate that based on the current voter data and polling station numbers, the FEO will be required to print 757,850 ballot papers and compile 15,157 ballot books. The minimum contingency at each polling station is 10% and maximum will be the remainder in the last book.

The total number of polling staff required for the General Election based on the above voter data will be 10,593. In central division the FEO will require 3555 election officials, 2147 in Eastern Division, 3233 in Western Division, Northern will need 1658 election officials and in Prepoll the FEO will operate 89 teams made-up of 445 officials.

The FEO has continuously updated the National Register of Voters since the conclusion of the 2014 General Election. The following is a breakdown explaining the registration rate as well as result of continuous data cleaning exercise by the FEO:

2014 – 591,101 Registered Voter 2016 – 607,350 Registered Voters 2017 – 624,404 Registered Voters Thank you very much and Vinaka Vakalevu.

–Ends–

Electoral Commissioners with the Fijian Elections Office Publications that were launched in Suva this afternoon.

A Learning Module for Year 10 Social Science

Statement by the Supervisor of Elections

Introduction to Elections:

A Learning Module for Year 10 Social Science

11/01/18 – SUVA

The Attorney General and Minister for Education, Members of the Electoral Commission, Permanent Secretary for Education, Representatives from the Ministry of Education, Staff of the Fijian Elections Office and Invited guests;

Bula vinaka and a very warm welcome to you all.

The Fijian Elections Office 2015 -2019 in Goal 9, Objective 1 under Activity 31 required the FEO to deliver voter education program targeting newly eligible voters.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce ‘Introduction to Elections: A Learning Module for Year 10 Social Science Students’

This module substitutes the existing portion of the year 10 social studies curriculum on elections.

The two-week course consists of five lessons which culminates with a mock election based on framework similar to that of the Fijian General Election.

The five lessons are:

  1. Lesson 1- Introduction to Elections;
  2. Lesson 2- Why Vote?
  3. Lesson 3- The Fijian Elections Office [FEO];
  4. Lesson 4- Conduct of Elections in Fiji; and
  5. Lesson 5- Mock Election

Ladies and Gentlemen, Lesson 5, the Mock Election, is a culminating activity which will allow students to conduct a mock election. The students will be required to be the Student Supervisor of Elections, Presiding Officer, Polling Day Workers, Media Official, Polling Agents, Observer and voters.

This mock election exercise gives students a glimpse into the Fijian electoral process by simulating a polling station, with mock ballot boxes, voting screens and ballot papers, and then carrying out seat allocation.

To prepare for this exercise the FEO has printed 20,000 copies of the Students Workbook which will be given every Year 10 student and 40,000 ballot papers has also been printed. The FEO has also developed a Teachers Manual, a Mock Election Kit and a full time dedicated website for this curriculum. We have linked the website to some social media sites to generate interest.

Ladies and gentlemen, this website as per our standards requirements has disability friendly features which will help students with special needs to access information.

For example, students will be able to utilize the text-to-speech function which will enable students to listen to the notes instead of reading it.

The FEO has also developed videos to compliment the teacher lesson on Voting, Counting and Seat Allocation. Since the FEO recruits election officials from the general public, we are looking forward to some with ‘in-class’ experience soon.

The Fijian Electoral Education Centre will conduct nationwide short trainings for social science teachers to ensure that there is consistency in the delivery of the content. There is also a section for teachers on the FEO Voter education website to provide access to more materials that may refine their delivery of the materials.

I would like to thank Australian civic education and democratic governance practitioner, Yvonne Goudie, who assisted FEO Research Officer Ravneel Chand in the development of this curriculum and its tools.

Their efforts are in line with the Electoral Commission’s theme, ‘Raising the Standards in the Delivery of Elections in Fiji’ and this is something we are very proud of.

This year, we expect more than 16,100 students to go through this course in Term 1.

Thank you and vinaka vakalevu.

MOU Signing with the Fiji National University Alumni Association

Statement by the Supervisor of Elections Mr Mohammed Saneem

11 December, 2017 9 am

FEO HQ – SUVA

The Supervisor of Elections, Mr Mohammed Saneem and The Vice-Chancellor of Fiji National University, Professor Nigel Healey

Fiji National University, Vice Chancellor Professor Nigel Healey, welcome to the Fijian Elections Office. It is certainly a pleasure having you, I also want to say that as far as University engagements go we are very proud of our engagements with the Fiji National University.

Time and again we meet on various developments and I’m looking forward to this new engagement through the Fiji National University Alumni Association elections.

The MOU that we sign with the FNU Alumni Association is following the approval by the Minister under section 154 of the Electoral Act for the FEO to be able to conduct elections for the Alumni Association.

I’d also like to acknowledge and thank the Fiji National University and the Alumni Association for its confidence in the Fijian Elections Office to conduct its election and the MOU sets the platform on how we will proceed from here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, because this is the Alumni of a University it would be a good platform for us to use Electronic Voting machines. Earlier on we advertised widely that that Electronic Voting machines are only for small-scale elections, Trade Union Elections and University Elections and I’m grateful to the Alumni Association for accepting the offer to conduct elections using these Machines.

We will be conducting this election for the Alumni Association in January, and I understand that the association will now embark on a massive registration drive so that they are able to engage as many FNU Alumni as possible.

With the rich and vast history of the Fiji National University, this will be a tremendous task to register members.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we also wish to say that we use small-scale elections to test and perfect our election processes and the Alumni Association election will also present us another platform to do this. The Fijian Electoral

Commission has approved a theme, ‘Raising Your Standards in the delivery

of Elections in Fiji’ and with the University elections and other elections that we conduct, we certainly use this as an opportunity.

The Association of World Election Bodies (AWEB), in its engagement with Fiji has invited Fiji to consider if it wishes to host a regional training centre on elections. This will be an AWEB initiative in the Pacific Region and the Regional Training centre will be a platform for AWEB to progress technology in elections, and to progress capacity building in elections in the whole region.

I would definitely look forward to discussions with Professor Healey in terms of the possibility of having FNU as our key partner in becoming this crucial hub for the Pacific region for AWEB.

This year we ran the second Student Association election for the Fiji National University Students Association and we look forward to continuing this partnership with the Student Associations. It is an interesting area for us as these are the future generations of the country and giving them an exposure to good election practices is what we are all about.

I would like to congratulate Industrial Election Coordinator Mr Aisea Wainiqolo and his team for adding another one to the list. They have run about two hundred elections, the Association election will be the first for 2018 and I’m sure that his team will be prepared to run this.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to thank Professor Healey and Mr Netani Sukanaivalu and his team, the FNU staff as well as the entire Alumni for their faith in the FEO to conduct your elections. I look forward to enhancing this very fruitful collaboration in the future under the MOU.

Thank You and Vinaka Vakalevu.

Election Officials Recruitment Drive Phase II

Statement by Stakeholder Awareness Coordinator

Mr Edwin Nand

Election Officials Recruitment Drive Phase II

01/12/2017 – FEO HQ

Mr Edwin Nand – Stakeholder and Awareness Coordinator

Bula vinaka ladies and gentlemen,

The Fijian Elections Office [FEO] will be conducting its second phase of Election Officials Recruitment during the months of December 2017 and January 2018.

This time around, we will be doing things a little differently – we have designed our schedules and deployment plans to target eligible Fijians living mostly in peri-urban and rural areas. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. We want to ensure that there are sufficient Election Officials to staff all polling stations in rural areas – especially in locations from which we have received fewer applications.
  2. We want to ensure that persons who could not attend the recruitment drive earlier are given an opportunity to do so. The FEO realizes the geographical challenges for voters living outside the urban areas, and this should not disqualify them from participating in what is a national exercise for all Fijians.

Ladies and gentlemen, a comprehensive plan has been prepared by our team for the second phase of recruitment and as an example, we will be visiting areas such as Naqali and Vunidawa in the interior of Naitasiri, Vatukoula in Tavua and Seaqaqa and Nabouwalu in Vanua Levu.

A more detailed schedule is available on the FEO website and Facebook pages, however given the geographic challenges, we have also partnered with various Provincial Councils to ensure that word gets out and that voters are prepared.

Our recruitment process has not changed and for the second phase we will still use the Election Officials Recruitment System and applicants will have to sit a Computer Based Test.

Phase II of the recruitment drive will run from 5th December to 15th December 2017, with the second round scheduled from 8th January to 26th January 2018.

As you are aware, the FEO initially announced that we are looking for 17, 000 Election Officials to work on Election Day and in round one of the exercise, we received 13,574 applications.

Looking at statistics from the first phase of recruitment, the total number of applicants who passed the test is 12,669.

10,113 applicants have completed training as of November 30, 2017.

We’ve also been unable to contact 661 applicants because we can’t get through to them on the mobile phone contact provided to the FEO. We would urge these persons to contact us on 1501 and quote their Application Reference number.

The number of applicants trained by Division as of November 30, 2017 are as follows:

Division Number
Northern 1286
Central 4904
Western 3143
Eastern 483

 

As for teachers, we have received applications from 522 teachers as of 30th November, 2017.

From the Central Division, we have 299 applications, 153 for the Western Division and 70 applications were received in the Northern Division.

Please note, we are targeting 300 applications from teachers per division.

Since this exercise ends on 02 December 2017, teachers who wish to apply can also visit one of our recruitment centres which will be open during Phase II.

School teachers will be our back-up staff for Polling Day and they must apply on our Election Official Recruitment System so we can have them sit the test and then be referred for training.

We encourage school teachers to apply quickly so that we can train them in January and not affect the school schedules next year.

For persons who missed out on the initial recruitment drive in July this year, now is your chance. Find your nearest recruitment venue, and show up with your VoterCard, FNPF Number, TIN Letter and Bank account details at our recruitment centres.

Also, we had some cases where applicants did not give their correct phone numbers and bank details.

All details of the second phase of recruitment will be available on the website and other platforms such as social media on:

fijielects2018.org.fj/eofficials/

www.facebook.com/Fijianelectionsoffice

www.facebook.com/FijiVotes2018

Thank you very much for your time ladies and gentlemen.

Handover of Touch Screen Voting Machine and Equipment for Server Room

Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission

Mr Suresh Chandra

Handover of Touch Screen Voting Machine and Equipment for Server Room

Suva – 23rd November, 2017 – 10:00am

 

The Director General of A-WEB, Mr Seongbae Kang, The Korean Ambassador to Fiji, Mr Kim Seong-in; KOICA Country Director, Ms Hyunwon Kim; Fellow Electoral Commissioners; The Supervisor of Elections; Distinguished guests.

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very warm welcome to the Fijian Elections Office.

I would like to specially extend a warm welcome to our distinguished guests from the Association of World Election Bodies [A-WEB] based in Incheon, Korea.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we all know technology plays a very important role in our everyday lives. The first thing that many of us do in the morning is look at our mobile phones.

Whether it is for turning off alarms; checking the time or to read the daily news even before holding the newspaper. Apart from smartphones, most of our daily activities involve the usage of technology such as laptops, tablets, e-ticketing machines and the list continues.

Ladies and gentlemen, the use of information and communication technologies in the electoral process is something that we should not be afraid of. The introduction of ICT in elections is generating both interest and concern among the people around the world.

Today most Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) in the world use new technologies with the aim of improving the electoral process. The appropriate application of technology to elections can increase administrative efficiency, reduce long term costs and enhance political transparency.

Ladies and gentlemen, while I can confirm that we will not be using any electronic voting systems in the 2018 General Election, it does not mean we cannot try it anywhere else.

Today we will receive 53 touchscreen voting machines from AWEB which will be used for Trade Union Elections in the country as well as elections for the University Student Bodies.

The FEO conducts up to 100 elections for Trade Unions in the country and these machines are specifically for use in these elections. In fact, the FEO has conducted more than 200 elections for trade unions to date since 2014.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is just a mere opportunity for just us to explore what technologies are there in elections so that we can test it on small scale elections.

We believe in the ability of the Touch Screen Voting machine to simplify the election processes and minimize cost while at the same time give Fijians the opportunity to experience voting as they would in the Republic of Korea, Estonia, Australia, Belgium, India and the United States to name a few.

The use of Touch-screen Voting Machines means that small scale elections can be conducted much quicker, with more efficiency, fewer resources and less manpower while still delivering high standards.

We understand that there are more than 25000 registered members of trade unions but the impact of that experience should be multiplied 5 times because in Fiji we have grog bowl discussions and we expect the topic of trade unions to be discussed around grog bowls.

This is a very high level of outreach that we tend to obtain by simply introducing a new gadget in the voting process. Whilst I reiterate that the 2018 General Election will not have any electronics involved, the Electoral Commission welcomes the FEOs futuristic approach in exploring what’s out there in the market and ensuring that Fiji is not left behind in this age of information enhancement.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is just one of the many examples of how the FEO is committed to the theme, ‘Raising the Standards in the Delivery of Elections in Fiji’, set out by the Commission.

To A-WEB, I extend my sincere thanks for your assistance and contribution towards the development of this country as a whole and I look forward to more collaborations in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your attendance to witness this historic handover.

Thank you very much or as they say in Korean, Gam-sah-amnida.

AWEB Handing Over Speech by SoE

Bula Vinaka Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you very much for accepting our invitation. May I also take this opportunity to warmly welcome our guests from the Republic of Korea.

The Fijian Elections Office joined the Association of World Election Bodies in 2015. AWEB at the time had 106 members. Following our acceptance into AWEB, we participate in numerous training sessions in Korea as well as Election Visitor Programs during Korean National Elections.

We may all remember the Secretary General Kim Yong-Hi came to Fiji in March this year and signed a record of discussions confirming AWEB’s support to the FEO in the area of Trade Union Elections and ICT titled ‘Project to support Building Electoral Transparency through Automation of Voting and Counting System in the Republic of Fiji’

The objectives of this Project were to:

  1. Provide 50 Units of touch screen voting machines to contribute to the improvement in the voting process for Trade Union Elections
  2. Build redundant networks and security systems for the stable management and operation of the FEO server room.
  3. Offer Training, education and technical assistance about the touch screen machine and systems to be newly introduced by AWEB

I am glad today to announce that the action items from the record of discussions have been successfully realized.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this morning we will witness the delivery and handing over of Touch Screen Voting Machines for Trade Union elections in Fiji. We will also mark today as the completion date for the AWEB support to the FEO ICT division interms of network upgrade and security enhancement.

I would like to briefly explain both these projects before I hand-over to our respected speakers this morning.

  1. Touch Screen Voting Machines for Trade Union Elections

Based on Goal 1, Objective 2 of the 2015-2019 Strategic Plan of the FEO which states

Implement innovative solutions to improve the administration of elections in Fiji

The FEO had been conducting Trade Union elections since 2014 and they have reported considerable improvements. We have annually run over 100 elections on average since 2015.  Additionally, the FEO also runs elections for University Student Associations.

Automation of Trade Union elections will definitely improve the transparency and efficiency of the process. Trade Union Elections also present an ideal environment to introduce innovative enhancements in a smaller scale.

  1. Build redundant networks and security systems for the stable management and operation of the FEO server room.

The AWEB is a leader in terms of elections ICT in the world. AWEB has significant capacity when it comes to access to and availability of experts in various IT fields that may not be readily available in the Pacific let alone Fiji.

This part of our project involved the AWEB experts carrying out an audit of the FEO network and server infrastructure to ascertain the strength of our security systems as well as our data handling protocols. In simple terms for us lay people, AWEB security experts checked our network vulnerability.

After the initial audit, the experts found our network to be at sufficient security standards and recommended that we further enhance our security platform to ensure greater protection.

AWEB team worked closely with our network engineers to build extra redundancies, create additional firewall protocols, and create network zoning for greater protection against unauthorized access as well as data protection.

AWEB also supplied industry standard hardware and equipment for FEO’s data centre. I am informed by my network team that our electronic data and systems are now state-of-the-art enterprise level.  AWEB gave us 2 fortigate 500D firewall appliance which is used by ISO certified ISP’s.

AWEB also provided technical assistance for our planned second data redundancy located somewhere in Fiji. We would like at all times to be prepared for disaster recovery and business continuity and this second redundancy guarantees this for us.

These are huge futuristic investments in our country by AWEB.

  1. Offer Training, education and technical assistance about the touch screen machine and systems to be newly introduced by AWEB

AWEB undertook this aspect of the agreement in Incheon, Korea. 20 staff of the FEO, including approved Returning officers for Trade Union Elections participated in a 9 days hands-on training program from 20 to 29 October 2017.

At the training, our team studied the functionality, the operability and the trouble shooting of the machines. Technical training was also provided to our IT teams in terms of encrypted data transmission and handling.

Our IT teams managed to forge greater networks with industry specialists. This will prove to be an excellent resource in the more pressing and demanding times for the 2018 General Election.

As with all AWEB programs, our team also got to experience the rich culture and other advancements of Korea.

On behalf of my team I would like to sincerely thank the executive and staff of AWEB for this wonderful collaboration. We especially thank AWEB for agreeing to work with such a small emb like us to help us in expanding our ICT capacities.

Mr. Director General, AWEB’s investment in Fiji and the FEO is sincerely appreciated and I look forward to continuing our partnership.

Vinaka – gamshamnidaaaaa!

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