Bula vinaka Ladies and Gentlemen.

My preference this morning is to address you not as the chief guest but I would like to talk you as the person who is the Returning Officer for the 2018 General Election.

Ladies and gentlemen, the responsibility of being the Returning Officer means that I am responsible for every ballot paper, for every politician, for every ballot box and for every single staff who operates polling stations.

I have delegated that responsibility squarely on the team here but there is a lot of delegation to you as well.

In an operation as this ladies and gentlemen, consistency cannot really be understated.

Pre-poll is a precursor to our General Election for the one day election.

We cannot have different procedures in pre-poll and on Election Day.

Of course there are legal procedures that are different like the secret envelope and there is no counting in the evening but our style should not change.

When you are training pre-poll staff, if there is something that you need to fill in the space between your thought and another thought, tell them that they need to be polite. They need to be humble.

We are doing a duty to every voter that is turning up to vote.

We are not be swayed by what some politicians, some disgruntled politicians, some disgraced politicians are saying.

We are to stick to our procedures. We stick to the procedures that have been tried and tested.

This is not the first election that the Fijian Elections Office is running. This not the first time we are discussing procedures in a room.

The team at the office has worked considerably hard for the last four years and the procedures that we have developed have been tested.

There has been numerous mocks conducted so we have confidence in delivering this to our staff.

You should feel confidence also that the procedures are designed to ensure that there is reconciliation, accountability and at the same time highest levels of transparency.

As trainers, you will need to thoroughly familiarize yourselves with the election procedures that you are about to impart to our staff.

I have been to a few mock events in which we have already invited people whom you have trained and I am impressed.

Because the level of information that the staff who come and operate procedures on those days is significantly high. Their familiarity is very good. Their confidence is good.

Which means that the people who we have selected to carry out the training are very good. I congratulate you for this excellent achievement.

I know it has not been an easy task conducting training for three hours. I know it has not been an easy task conducting several trainings over the weeks but ladies and gentlemen, someone has to do it.

Which brings me back to the role of the Returning Officer.  My last consideration will be how happy or unhappy the politicians are with the process.

My priority will be that on Election Day, the voter gets the best possible service at the polling station. Whether it’s pre-poll or Election Day or whether it is when the voter comes into our Voter Services Centre to get services in terms of their VoterCard or Voter details. That is our priority.

The election is meant for the voter ladies and gentlemen. It is the voter – number one.

People who are seeking attention with this and that, they are actually seeking the attention of whom? The Voter.

And those who are not registered, they can’t complain. They have still have time.

But ladies and gentlemen, at pre-poll, our teams have to understand in advance that we are going to some of the most remote locations in our country.

We may have to play the role of the Voter Information Officer as well. We may have to play the role of the assistance provider. We may also have to play the role of being the prefects to say ‘sorry, you can’t do that’.

So Election Officers in the field are not only going to be the ones who are going to stick to the script to do that 8-5 or 7-12 job. They have to play another role as well. Many other roles.

We must demonstrate the best customer service experience Fijians get. They deserve nothing less ladies and gentlemen. This should be what we need to inculcate in our trainings to start with.

Based on our HR requirements, we are recruiting the best people we can get for pre-poll. We need to make sure that they are trained so that they can deliver pre-poll and people look forward to the Election Day.

Pre-poll is not a training for voters. It is an actual election. They will only be able to vote there. Voters need to be educated on that. They need to know that if I vote here today, that’s it. I can’t vote again.

So our staff need to make sure that the voter is able to realize their vote with the same level of seriousness that we would do on Election Day, with the same level of security that will be there on Election Day, with the same level of sensitivity that will be there on Election Day.

As the team working with the Returning Officer for this General Election, there is some other responsibilities on us.

Politics in our country has taken an unfortunate turn. Some ruthless politicians have taken to defaming the office, to defaming the people who worked in this office or to attacking the 10,000 or so staff that worked in the last election – without evidence.

And the audacity to step up without this evidence to say ‘I am not going to give the evidence and I am just going to say this.’

So someone would say they are lies. But then someone would also say they are desperate.

When you are conducting the training, you conduct the training based on our procedures and manuals that we have developed.

You do not need to build in an additional procedure just because you saw Mahendra Chaudhry on Facebook saying the election will be rigged in pre-poll.

Don’t worry about him.

Run the training, run the procedure based on our requirements.

Don’t worry if his son says pre-poll is rigged. They are saying 2014 was rigged but have no evidence. So these are people who are trying their best luck. Sometimes you think they are trying to stay on top to remain noticed – desperate for attention. Desperate being the key word.

In our line of work, ladies and gentlemen, we are not bothered by what they say. Our job is our job.

That’s what the people of Fiji expect us to do. The best endorsement is when you are on the street and someone says to you ‘Keep going son. Don’t worry about this’.

The Fiji Labour Party has been complaining about elections ever since we have been having election. Everytime except for 1999 obviously.

Everytime there was an election, they stood up saying ‘something was wrong in this election and we will tell you after the next election’.

So we know them and the people of Fiji know them as well.

What we need to do as election management people is to make sure our election staff are so well trained that these things do not affect them.

Our team will take such great ownership of this process that they are not going to be affected by what social media says.

They are going to run the process so that it is consistent with international best practice as designed by the people on my team.

And trained by all of you. If someone goes home today and says what am I going to get out of this election?

You are going to get that satisfaction when the date of the election is complete and your staff finds you on the streets and say’s Thank You for training me.

Don’t worry about other ancillary matters. Every person’s upbringing, your beliefs, are centered around that conscience and that is what we need to work on.

When you are dealing with your staff, I want you to tell them very clearly that they are not to change any procedure based on what they see in the media or in the social media.

The directives for amendments of procedures will come from our offices only period. It is very simple.

I can tell you that we have developed all the procedures with such level of detail that there is a reconciliation process built in every procedure at every step.

We will make sure that we account for everything ourselves. We don’t want to wait for anyone else to account for us. We are running this election not the political parties. We are not going to wait for them to come and validate our documents.

I bet they will not even be able to have polling agents at all the polling stations. They should focus on that.

We will focus on having staff at every polling station. We will focus on making sure that all our documents are completed. All our paperwork is proper, in legible handwriting, and all our paperwork accompanies every other item that is supposed to reach us.

That is what we have to focus on. That is exactly what we need to do. In pre-poll, I have another thing to discuss in relation to pre-poll. Pre-poll is the only time where the staff will have to look after the ballot box for a considerable period of time. They will have to travel from place to place. They will have the custody of the ballot box. The police officers will be there.

That I am sure everybody will understand. There is great amount of sensitivity and because of our already conducted training I don’t think I need to reemphasize that. We need to keep that in order.

We will store the ballot boxes in shipping containers. At the warehouse there will be a twenty four hour live feed showing the entrance to the shipping containers.

There is going to be proper reconciliation of the receipt and dispatch of the ballot boxes. It is the most secure way to do it.

And we are not doing it in a warehouse where there is no proper lighting. We are doing it right in the middle of our warehouse carpark where our shipping containers are, these are guarded by the Fiji Police. So pre-poll materials will be secure and they will be taken securely to the count center.

Once the pre-poll materials are at the count center, counting will take place and then it will be then returned for storage.

Our staff need to pay careful attention during the transition of these materials that they are very secure. We have to pay careful attention to that.

Ballot boxes are custom sized to allow them to be carried on their lap. If the presiding officer is conscious he can do that.

But I am sure the team is going to train you on the day on how these materials are to be properly handled and we will ensure that our procedures at the warehouse are there to safeguard of these materials.

There are some seventy-two thousand people who will be voting in pre-poll out of the six hundred thousand voters.

They are as equal as important as the six hundred thousand voters. Five hundred and fifty thousand voters actually. So it does not mean that pre-poll voters are insignificant. Pre-poll voters are significant.

We need to make sure that every voter has that opportunity. Ladies and gentlemen, the election date has not yet been announced.

But we must make sure that in this refresher, our pre-poll staff are ready and equipped with all the necessary training so that they are able to deliver the pre-poll as we expect.

And then we look forward to seeing you for the refresher for the Election Day. So having said all this I would like to wish you all the very best for the training.

I would like to heartily thank you for putting in this effort in training the teams that have already been trained. We are impressed by the work you have already done and we implore you to continue this excellent work so that we have the best trained officials for the 2018 General Elections.

With those few words ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all the best for your training.

Thank you and Vinaka Vakalevu.

Bula vinaka Ladies and Gentlemen.

At the moment, our most important stakeholders are our voters.

This morning, I would like to impart to you my thoughts and expectations of your extremely critical roles. The FEO always aspires to deliver services of the highest quality while at the same time upholding integrity and without compromising on the efficiency.

The above can be achieved if you follow the following simple advice:

  1. Accept that you are the person representing the organization. At that point of contact with the customer, you are the FEO. What you do, what you say, how you do, how you say and the speed of delivery will be the units of measurement in terms of the customers ultimate perception of the FEO.
  2. Things such as presentation, approach, delivery of information and knowledge of your firm’s vision are the key details that one needs to be highly familiar with.
  3. It is also highly important that one is confident when having things discussed with integrity and keeping confidentiality in mind at all times.
  4. Our work requires proper step by step process to be followed and it is essential that the processes are done with the same manner from the beginning till the end, this is important to ensure that there are no discrepancies when it comes to handling any scenarios such as meet and greet or even disputes. All customers around the country should be given exactly the same service for any particular process and not different. We need to be consistent to the letter as best we can.
  5. The client, visitor or any person available would have set expectations to have their queries and concerns resolved, it would be our role to ensure that this is completed with the best of our capabilities, not only to meet but to exceed expectations.

BULA or BULA VINAKA! – PLEASE DO NOT FORGET THIS ladies and gentlemen.

The first impression is always the lasting impression so the first impression you must give to anyone who enters is that you are approachable and are ready to assist them. In this case you are the face of our impression -literally

I am sure that the trainers worked out an excellent training for you. This will also be your opportunity to ask questions or seek clarifications as well. I hope you enjoy the training.

Thank you and Vinaka Vakalevu.

Bula vinaka ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attendance.

 

This afternoon I would like to announce the procedures that the Fijian Elections Office will be following when it comes to voting by persons with disabilities.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, as we are aware, Section 57 of the Electoral Act specifically states that when a voter is at a Polling Station and suffers from incapacity by either blindness or other physical reason from voting, the voter may request the Presiding Officer to assist him or her to cast a vote.

 

However, we are also aware of the fact that earlier this year that Parliament passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act and Fiji has also ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As such the requirements under section 47(c) on the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act now becomes the law.

 

Section 47 reads that – all persons with disabilities have the right to effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others directly or through the assistance of a representative and the right and the opportunity for person with disabilities to vote and be elected including by;

Section 47, Subsection (c): guaranteeing the free expression of the will persons with disabilities as electors and to this end where necessary at the request allowing assistance in voting by a person of their own choice.

 

Following the approval by Parliament of this law, the FEO has thereafter sought legal opinion and we have now modified the procedures for voting by person to disabilities as follows.

 

A person who is suffering from disability may now select the person of their own choice who has to be a registered voter, to assist the person with disabilities to mark their ballot paper inside the polling station on Election Day. They can also do the same for Pre-Poll.

 

However ladies and gentlemen, there are few matters that have to be complied with:

 

  1. The person assisting the voter must be a registered voter;
  2. The Presiding Officer appointed by the FEO will be overseeing the process of assistance being provided by this person selected by the voter.

 

The Presiding Officer will record the details of the voter as well as the person assisting the voter in the Presiding Officers Record Book to ensure that information regarding this assistance being provided is available for reference purposes.

In terms of the provision of assistance, in order to protect voters as well as the integrity of the elections the FEO has imposed the requirement that a person may only assist up to two person with disabilities.  Thereafter, that person is no longer eligible to provide any other assistance to any other voter at the same polling station.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, this change in the procedure is to align the FEO in accordance with the requirement of the Rights of Person with Disabilities Act as well as the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

 

The FEO has consulted Disabled Persons Organizations in relation to this procedure prior to the approval process.

 

So, on Election Day or during Pre-Poll, persons living with disabilities now has the opportunity to elect a person of their choice – who has to be a registered voter – to assist them in marking the ballot papers.

 

Thank you and Vinaka Vakalevu.

Bula Vinaka ladies and gentlemen of the media and welcome to the Fijian Elections Office [FEO].
Ladies and gentlemen, after a thorough verification and adjudication process, the FEO has finalised the Voter Roll as at 31st July, 2018.
We now have a total of 631,895 registered voters and the breakdown is as follows:
In the Central Division, there are 261,603 registered voters;
In the Eastern Division, we have recorded 25,941 registered voters;
From the Western Division, the FEO has registered 242,171 Voters; and
From the Northern Division, the number of registered voters stand at 94,200.
There are 7,980 voters who have registered overseas and would be eligible to cast their vote via postal ballot.
There are 313,239 registered female voters and 318,656 registered male voters.
We had a total of 3,572 new registrations between June and the end of July.
Currently, John Wesley Primary School is the Polling Venue with the highest number of voters with 5,172 while Dogotuki Village FEO Tent has the smallest number of voters with 19.

Ladies and gentlemen, if some of you had attended our previous announcement regarding the National Voter Roll, you would notice that as at 31st May, 2018 the total stood at 636,764.
You will notice that there is a significant decrease number of voters as we have now successfully verified and removed 7,684 marked as deceased.
The confirmation for deceased voters was done through various aspects, firstly we got the data from the Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) Registry; the data was then verified through fieldwork during our nationwide drive as well as from our direct visits to various locations just to make sure the data is accurate.
Thereafter, ladies and gentlemen, we engaged with the Fiji National Provident Fund [FNPF] and I’d like to thank the CEO of FNPF for his assistance in the verification process to check the number of voters that are deceased against the records held at Fiji National Provident Fund.
We also checked this data against other agencies such as the Ministry of Health and the Judiciary to ensure that those people who are confirmed deceased are only removed from the roll.
At the end of that exercise we managed to confirm 7,684 and they have been now removed from the voters list.
Ladies and gentlemen, currently when a person reports of a deceased voter they do not include their voter details in that report. This proves a little bit of an exercise for us to verify the status of a person in the event they have passed on.
So far, we have removed a total of 24,230 deceased voters from the roll including 14,696 in 2018. Between the months of June and July, we removed a total of 7,684 deceased voters.

However, we are still requesting family members, friends or members of communities to please inform us if there is someone on the voter roll who has passed away and should be removed. This is essential for the FEO to maintain a very clean an accurate roll.
We do not want to remove people without getting confirmation and as such we will go to great lengths to ensure that the persons that have been removed from the voters list are confirmed as deceased.
The motive of an accurate voter list is to ensure that eligible voters are able to cast a ballot, reduce inaccuracies, and speed up the voter identification process at polling venues.
An international report by the Public Interest Legal Foundation of the United States titled ‘Best Practices for Achieving Integrity in Voter Registration’, stated that accurate voter rolls are important to the electoral and political process as errors in voter information data could have a significant or negative impact on the result of a general election. This is the kind of integrity that Fiji needs to maintain.
We have forms available online for any person who wishes to confirm the status of a voter who may have passed on and it is a simple process which you can fill and send to us.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to once again remind everybody that voter registration will cease following the issuance of the Writ.
It is therefore important for all eligible Fijians who still have not registered to still do so.
We now have Voter Services Centres open all over the country as much as 28 Centres and Fijians can take advantage of any of these Centres nearest to their place of residence.

As I have said, the data that we have released today is not the final data as voter registration is ongoing. We will be releasing the final data following the issuance of the Writ.
Incorrect statements by Fiji Media Watch
The Fijian Elections Office would also take this opportunity to clarify an incorrect statement issued by an organization holding itself out as the Media Watch Group and we have been provided a copy of the statement which is also published on their Facebook Page as well as sent to media organisations as the Fiji Times was querying about it.
We have noted that in the said statement this group has stated that the date for the General Election is 26th November.
We have perused the statement and we have found that the makers of the statement have failed to take into consideration various provisions on the Constitution which would then allow them to make a correct decision the legal position regarding the Election Date.
The Constitution is very clear. Following the conclusion of three and six months of Parliament, the Prime Minister may advice the President at any time to dissolve Parliament and issue the Writ for the Election.
And this is a necessity. This does not mean that the Parliament would have to convene and vote for a majority for the Parliament to be dissolved but it’s directly on the advice of the Prime Minister to the President.
At this point in time, as the election management body, we would like to urge caution to all groups such as the Media Watch Group and any other group that may formed for the purposes of advocating for the 2018 General Election to be cautious about the types of publications that they produce particularly when it is being disseminated across of mediums such as Facebook as it will only create confusion.
The Fijian Elections Office has already published numerous materials that can be relied on to get the most accurate information in relation to the election and these groups are invited to first read through our materials so that they know from the election management body directly what the legal position is and in the event they have any queries, they may contact us for clarification.
For the purposes of this statement, we would like to categorically state that the Media Watch Group statement as issued on 31st July is incorrect in law and the fact that it has been disseminated without proper vetting in terms of the legal side of things makes it quite cautious and I may say even irresponsible.
Henceforth, the Fijian Elections Office urges all groups such as this group to seek clarification from the FEO before publically announcing any position in law as they may end up misleading voters.


Thank you and Vinaka Vakalevu.

Bula Vinaka Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

I would like to welcome once again Leena to the FEO. And of course Adhy is here as well. It’s good to have you here.

I also acknowledge the presence of our Deputy Supervisor, Directors, Technical Consultants, team from the International IDEA office in Fiji and of course my friends and the colleagues of the FEO.

This year is quite special for us as we are celebrating our fourth anniversary.  This occasion also coincides with the conclusion of the term of the first MoU that the FEO signed post creation.

This was the MoU with international IDEA. It is an honor and a privilege for the FEO to receive the agreement of International IDEA in the first place to sign MoU with a newly budding election management body in a country that just transition into electoral democracy.

And following that, the execution of that agreement the FEO and the International IDEA have collaborated on various fronts to enhance the evolvement of election procedures and practices in Fiji.

The most notable aspect we must say has been the participation of International IDEA in the Pacific Electoral Network’s meeting in Nadi wherein there was a presentation that was done by International IDEA to the entire Electoral Management Bodies throughout the Pacific on election best practices.

International IDEA is also known as the largest publication house of election literature in the world, and they have kindly agreed to supply the FEO with Election text books that we were able to deliver to ten major libraries around the country.

This was part of the plan to enrich libraries and resources within our country with international standard text literature on election, something that we overlooked in the past in our country.

International IDEA also was greatly helpful in assisting the FEO in our endeavors to first create and furnish our first library on election literature in Fiji.

I was glad to be invited by International IDEA to contribute a chapter to one of its publication titled ‘Introducing Biometric Technology in Elections’ on the use of biometrics in the voter registration processes.

May I thank Leena and Adhy for this opportunity as this publication from 2017 is now available on the International IDEA website as well as forming an assistance mechanism for any election management body that may intend to adopt the voter registration tools that Fiji currently has.

International IDEA also introduced to Fiji the election risk management tool that it has developed to assist election management bodies like us in assessing, tracking and managing risks as well as averting them.

This tool is widely used by Election Management Bodies and I am privileged to say that FEO looks forward to the use of this tool by Mereseini’s team in this Election.

International IDEA also collaborated with us as Leena has mentioned for the development of the Candidates Handbook which has been drafted based on guidelines from International IDEA and we were glad to facilitate this especially in our office and thank you Adhy for the tireless effort and the person that International IDEA had assigned as well as for your own contribution to this manual.

I am sure all the Candidates for the upcoming General Election will appreciate having such a guide on hand and they have to read it.

The FEO would like to once again thank International IDEA for its continuing collaboration with us and we are looking forward to something interesting in the future.

In fact our actual endeavor is to eventually list Fiji as one of the signatory countries to the International IDEA Convention so that we are able to benefit from and participate in electoral democracy related activities of countries that are already on that platform perhaps plan for the next strategic plan.

I’d like to welcome the fact that International IDEA has already established your office in Fiji as part of the C3 project and it creates an opportunity for Fijians as well as the election management body to benefit through collaboration with this great organization in our local arena.

Thank you for agreeing to continue to extend our relationship and I look forward to fruits of this relationship bearing greater access to elections and elections practices in Fiji and in the future.

 

Thank you and Vinaka Vakalevu.

His Excellency, the Indian High Commissioner, Mr Vishvas Sapkal,

Karyl Winter, our Deputy Supervisor of Elections,

Representatives from the High Commission of India to Fiji,

Ladies and gentlemen.

 

First of all it is an honour and a privilege to once again be here to receive some assistance towards the 2018 General Election.

For the Fijian Elections Office [FEO] and on behalf of the team at the FEO your Excellency – and the people of Fiji may I take this opportunity to thank you and the Indian Government for their kind assistance to our election management body in terms of the facilitation of transporting equipment for the General Election in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen on the day we received this assistance in a form of a cheque for the sum of $224,000.00, I mentioned that the Election is the largest logistic exercise in peace time for any country and Fiji is no different.

The unique features of election involves a lot of transportation requirement to various areas through roads that require tough terrain vehicles, as well as vehicles that can sustain the off road requirements.

The Mahindra vehicles that we have purchased from the assistance are actually designed for these roads.

The vehicles are, from our experience in 2014 – very strong vehicles, reliable in these condition. Vehicles that can actually handle some of the difficult driving that we have to manage through to get the equipment across and get the equipment back.

Your Excellency, the Mahindra Scorpio that we have acquired from the assistance is a six speed turbo charge vehicle that is very strong and has got enough power to deliver materials to our interior locations.

Of course you will see them around in Suva for the first couple a thousand kilometres for us to ensure that initial service and checks are done, after that we will definitely deploy into the areas.

So far, we have received a total of 14 vehicles from the Indian Government for the FEO as well as the luxury vehicle for the Electoral Commission transportation that His Excellency handed over at least a month ago.

We’d like to acknowledge the tremendous support as well as the friendship that the FEO shares with the High Commission of India in Fiji and credit goes to His Excellency Mr Vishvas Sapkal for his steadfast approach.

His Excellency has been a great friend to the FEO and has stepped forward to provide us the assistance and guidance that we may need at any point in time.

This morning ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to especially thank and personally recognize and endorse His Excellency’s commitments towards Fiji, the Fijian people as well as the FEO and we decided that it would be appropriate for us to honor His Excellency’s continuing efforts by providing and by honouring him through the presentation of a small token to commemorate his assistance.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I now please present His Excellency with the token of appreciation from all of us at the FEO.

Before I conclude I just want to talk a little bit more about the vehicle because this is election time and we usually have to do a lot of awareness to ensure that a lot of people are reminded that there is an election.

We decided to personalize the number plates of the vehicle to something more prominent and more appealing and behind us is the black Mahindra which has numbered ‘VOTE’ on its right is ‘I VOTE’ and ‘MY VOTE’ and far left is ‘WE VOTE’ and we will be distributing these vehicles to the Divisions.

So I am sure that the members of the public will remember, the Election is coming.

We are indeed very thankful for the support in terms of transportation for the General Election, please accept our sincere appreciation.

With those few words, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your attendance.

Vinaka Vakalevu.

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission,

Electoral Commissioners,

Members of the Diplomatic Corp,

Invited Guests,

Members of the Media.

Bula vinaka ladies and gentlemen.

I’d like to begin by thanking the Chairperson for his statement and remarks, it is greatly encouraging to receive such a statement from the boss in the morning as we proceed to another important week this week ladies and gentlemen.

From our part, the Fijian Election Office has ensured that all our goals and outcomes are not only focused on the better delivery of the 2018 General Election but also sets the foundation for an improved election in the future.

It’s about time we Fijians stop discouraging ourselves from thinking that we are too far behind or that we cannot achieve something just because we are from the tiny dot in the world map.

I refuse to subscribe to this line of thought and anyone who pushes this idea.

Ladies and gentlemen, this morning we have proven that if you set your mind beyond your comfort zone you achieve anything.

I still remember the day I had the idea discussed with Vijendra and his response was – “Yes, I can do it.”

Congratulations Vijendra, it’s in our hands literally and you have done it. Thank you.

The website idea also started from the famous whiteboard at the office where majority of the initiatives has taken shape from squares and text on a whiteboard – the possibilities have become endless.

Nathienial has pulled through very well and here we are ladies and gentlemen, we have a result website that can allow anyone who accesses it direct results at their comfort.

We have now progressed from the traditional result announcement on the media onto more direct accessible and available platforms.

Considering 40% of our population are below the age of 40, these will become the initiative of today for the future.

I am also very thankful to the team that work tirelessly in compiling the special edition of the Lavetiviti. My sincere thanks to Mario, Lynette, Shivika, Elesi, James, Jiuta, Darshani, Edwin, Arin, Shane, Riaz, Shelvin and everyone else who pitched in to have this publication ready.

I am sure it will make healthy reading particularly for our observers.

 

This morning we have also launched the live feed of our warehouse facility.

We had previously announced that there will be various locations that will be under guard and cameras will be placed to be live 24/7 on the internet so that you can also view the stored ballot

boxes from your mobile phones or your personal computers.

The live feed that we demo to you today will be placed on the Count Centre, Result Centre as well as the packing arena as we have advised.

We want Fijians to be able to see the actual process taking place.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the 2018 General Election, we will try our best to show the election process for all voters and Fijians to decide.

At the end of the day in this process there will be a winner and those who do not have a majority – this how democracy works.

I’d like to thank all our distinguished invited guests for taking out their time from their busy schedule and attending this event.

A special thanks to Mrs Paulini Lavetiviti who has accepted our invitation to join us on this occasion.

I wished to the Chair and the members of the Commission and the team from the Fijian Election Office and our media partners for their attendance.

Vinaka.

Statement by Supervisor of Elections

Mr Mohammed Saneem

Updated Voter Roll Statistics

FEO HQ Conference Room- 06/06/18-11.00am

The Supervisor of Elections, Mr Mohammed Saneem

Bula Vinaka ladies and gentlemen of the media and welcome to the Fijian Elections Office [FEO].

Ladies and gentlemen, after a thorough verification and adjudication process, the FEO has finalised the Voter Roll as at 31st May, 2018.

We have a total of 636,764 registered voters and the breakdown is as follows:

In the Central Division, there are 265,745 registered voters;

In the Eastern Division, we have recorded 26,006 registered voters;

From the Western Division, the FEO has registered 243,569 Voters; and

From the Northern Division, the number of registered voters stand at 94,954.

There are 7490 voters who have registered overseas and would be eligible to cast their vote via postal ballot.

Of the total number of voters, 67,829 will be voting via pre-poll, and 568,943 are Election Day voters.

Data March 2017 25 July 2017
Male 307,526 313,453
Female 298,471 303,137
Total Registered 605,997 616,590

On 26th July, 2017, the Central Division had 258, 849 voters, Western Division had 230,058, the Northern Division had 94, 577 and the Eastern Division had 26, 836 voters.

Ladies and gentlemen, our current tally of registered voters represents a 7.17 percent increase from 2014 General Election when we had 591,101 registered voters.

The FEO has noted a gradual, annual increase in voters over the last 4 years.

The increase in registered voters can be attributed to the annual Voter Registration Drive for Schools, the opening of Voter Services Centres around Fiji, and requests for voter registration from businesses and government entities.

One of the largest contributors has the recent Know Your Election campaign from March to April 2018 where we sent teams to all villages and communities to register voters.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Voters Roll is still available at our various Voter Service Centres around the country.

We are encouraging voters to check their details on the Voter Roll and to inform us if any of the details are incorrect so that we may make necessary amendments before the 2018 General Election.

The update of the Voter Roll isn’t just about checking the number of Fijians registered to vote – it is a meticulous exercise to account for every individual captured in the National Register of Voters.

One of the processes in ensuring that a clean and updated voter roll is maintained, is the verification and removal of deceased voters which is a legislative requirement under the Electoral (Registration of Voters) Act.

Deceased voters are only removed upon confirmation from the next of kin. This may limit the removal of deceased persons depending on consistency of information provided from the Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) Department.

Therefore, we are requesting family members, friends or members of communities to please inform us if there is someone on the voter roll who has passed away and should be removed.

This would greatly assist the FEO in ensuring that we capture the correct number of voters expected to turn up to cast their vote on Election Day.

The number of deceased voters indicated by the Births, Deaths and Marriages Department since 2012 is 38,519 and we matched 9,307 with our EVR data.

So far, we have removed a total of 13,380 deceased voters from the roll including 3,681 in 2018.

We do not want to remove people without getting confirmation from family members or the next of kin.

Having deceased voters on the Roll will also impact our voter turnout statistics as they will be counted in the percentage that would not have voted.

The FEO has a Confirmation of Deceased Voter Form available at all our Voter Services Centres Fiji wide, so we have made it simple for individuals to provide this vital information to us.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you would be aware, the registration of voters will cease on the day that the Writ of Election is issued.

Therefore eligible Fijians who still have not registered can still register.

Our Voter Services Centres around Fiji will continue to provide this service until such time as when the Writ is issued.

The Fijian Elections Office is also finalising logistics around the Overseas Voter Registration Drive which begins on the 15th of this month.

We are still receiving Expressions of Interest from eligible Fijians who wish to register for the 2018 General Election.

This may very well be the last opportunity that the FEO has to register voters overseas and so we encourage interested persons to get in touch with our office at the earliest.

Ladies and gentlemen, this Voter Roll is not final as the Fijian Elections Office will continue adjudication and verification of the Voter Roll until the Writ for the 2018 General Election is issued and that is when the National Register of Voters must be finalised.

Thank you and Vinaka Vakalevu.

Statement by the Supervisor of Elections

Mr Mohammed Saneem

2018 Overseas Voter Registration Drive

FEO HQ – 21 May, 2018

The Supervisor of Elections, Mr Mohammed Saneem

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

The Fijian Elections Office [FEO] plans to embark on another Overseas Voter Registration [OVR] Drive in June as part of our continuing preparations for the 2018 General Election.

This is possible due to the continuing calendar of Parliament which has presented the FEO with an opportunity to engage in this round of overseas voter registrations and conduct awareness for our voters overseas.

Currently, our OVR teams are being planned to visit Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America between the 15th and the 30th of June 2018.

We have once again requested the assistance of the Fiji Missions in the respective countries through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help in reaching out to the Fijian communities in these countries to help us identify locations where there is a demand for voter services.

Individuals/communities community reps can also directly contact EVR Coordinator Litia Sema on litia.sema@feo.org.fj and +679 9002292 to register their interest.

The mandatory requirement to achieve registration is production of a valid Fiji Passport.

The FEO will also accept Certificate of Citizenship for registration for those who may not have received their Fiji Passport yet.

During the last overseas registration drive, our teams managed to provide services to 2900 voters overseas including 696 new registrations.

Voters registered overseas will only be able to vote through postal voting in the 2018 General Election.

Vinaka Vakalevu.

 

 

Statement by the Deputy Supervisor of Elections

Ms Karyl Winter
Indelible Ink Handover
FEO Warehouse – 10 May, 2018

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very warm welcome to this handover ceremony this morning ladies and gentlemen.

As you all know that the General Election will be held later this year and we at the Fijian Elections Office [FEO] are doing everything we can to ensure that our preparations are up to par.

Ladiesand gentlemen, this handover ceremony ispart of our readiness and we are very thankful to the Indian Government and the Indian High Commission for their assistance in providing us with indelible ink.

Indelible ink also known as electoral ink, phosphoric ink is a semi-permanent ink that is applied to the index finger or little finger on the left hand of voters during elections in a bid to prevent electoral fraud such as double voting.

Indelible ink is made of a chemical compound called silver nitrate. When applied to the skin and exposed to ultraviolet light, it leaves a mark that is almost impossible to wash off.

Our Polling Day Workers check the fingers of voters before they walk into the Polling Station on Election Day and if they are found to have their fingers marked already, they would be requested to leave as it would mean they have already voted.

Ladies and gentlemen, those voters whose fingers do not have any marks on their fingers are allowed to enter the polling station where their ID and details will be checked and they will be issued with a ballot paper.

They will proceed to a cardboard voting screen where they will mark their ballot paper and then move on to the next station where the inking official will mark the index finger or little finger of the voter by dipping it in the ink bottle.

After that, the voter will drop his/her marked ballot paper in the ballot box and exit the polling station.

That is basically a run through of a polling station and how the indelible ink will be used on the day of election.

Ladies and gentlemen those voters who cast their ballot through pre-poll will also have their fingers marked after they have placed their marked ballot paper inside the secret envelope.

Having such measures as the indelible ink to ensure there is no double voting is essential as it puts faith in the system we have that there will be no room for rigging or manipulation of the system.

 

The mark on the voters finger is a matter of pride for the voter as a voter discharged his/her responsibility to the nation and to themselves for the next four years.

Every voter should carry the indelible ink marked finger with national pride as it is a sign of loyalty and patriotism.

Ladies and gentlemen, an election is not only about politicians and political parties campaigning against each other to form a government but it is more about instilling national pride and ownership every person who marks a vote on Election Day demonstrates their love affection and ownership to a country in which they live in.

Indelible Ink used in the Fijian electoral process acts as a confirmation of a vote but on the flip side allows the FEO and the political parties to verify and ensure that a person only votes once in our election.

This is critical considering every polling place caters for a maximum of 500 voters.

As highlighted in previous observer reports, we would like to ensure that there is no double voting or turn out in excess of registered voters at a polling venue.

Ladies and gentlemen, Fijian elections stands at a point where there is very high levels of reconciliation and accountability at both polling station level and national level and this gives voters the added security and confidence in the electoral system.

The FEO has benefitted widely from trainings and capacity building programs as well as invites to various international forums conducted in India and the assistance through provision of Indelible Ink, for which India is renowned for, is highly appreciated.

With those few words ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very much for your attendance here today.

Vinaka Vakalevu.