The Association of World Election Bodies (AWEB) Team from Korea, performed major network security upgrades to our Server Room. An additional layer of security was added to the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) network where external network users can access only what is exposed in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), while the rest of the FEO network is firewalled. This configuration is setup for our Touchscreen Voting Machines to prevent them from accessing our FEO local network.

They also constructed Network Zones to define standard baseline security requirements which has improved consistency and enhancement of network security in our local network. Zones are categorized as follows:

  • User Access Zone.
  • Server Zone
  • DMZ

In addition, two (2) identical firewalls have been configured and running to provide a reliable, continuous and secure connection to the public Internet. One firewall is configured as the Primary unit, and an identical firewall is configured as the Secondary unit. In the event of the failure of the Primary firewall, the Secondary firewall takes over to secure a reliable connection between the protected network and the Internet.

FEO Celebrates Diwali through Lights, Love and Joy

Diwali is undoubtedly one of the most significant festivals celebrated in Fiji and around the world to demarcate victory of good over evil.  Celebrating this festival at workplaces has definitely emerged as one of the biggest employee engagement initiatives in the country over many years.  Similarly, Diwali was celebrated in a grand way at the Fijian Elections Office this year like many years in the past.

The FEO Diwali celebrations marked a great week for the FEO staff, as they embraced the festivity by wearing their glamour filled Indian attire and exchanged traditional Indian savories. It was a week for everyone to learn more about the significance of Diwali and the Indian culture.

The FEO staff also worked together to decorate their Directorates with bright colored lights, Rangoli (traditional Indian decoration made with colorful powder and raw lentils, colored crepe papers and many other decorative materials.

The Diwali celebrations concluded with the keynote address by Supervisor of Elections (SoE) Mr Mohammed Saneem during the afternoon tea on Wednesday, 18 October 2017. The fun filled event had talent competition by each Directorate, following an award ceremony.

The success of the celebration can be seen through the long lasting cultural integration that is visible to date even after so many months.

Section 154 of the Electoral Act 2014, states that the Fijian Elections Office shall be responsible for the conduct of elections of all registered Trade Unions, municipalities and such other elections as determined by the Minister responsible for elections.

Under the leadership and guidance of the Supervisor of Elections (SoE) and the Director Operations, there is an Industrial Elections (IE) Coordinator and an Operations Planning Officer, who coordinate the planning and implementation of all Industrial Elections.

There are altogether forty seven (47) registered Trade Unions in Fiji. In this year alone, the Fijian Elections Office has conducted twenty four (24) National Elections and a hundred (100) Branch Elections. Out of all these elections, sixty percent (60%) were contested, and forty percent (40%) were uncontested.

The Industrial Elections arm of the Fijian Elections Office also conducts awareness to registered trade unions. In May and June this year, they conducted awareness to Trade Union members in the North, Central and in the West too.

So far, the Fijian Elections Office has not faced any serious problems in the conduct of Industrial Elections and we hope to maintain a positive working relationship with all Trade Unions in the years to come.

In the last week of October, the Fijian Elections Office organized a series of workshops for all the registered Political Parties.

The Supervisor of Elections, Mr Mohammed Saneem, opened this series of workshops by advising the participants that “we are not here to talk about changes to the law, rather we are here to talk about the processes within the law”.

The Unity Fiji Party which attended the workshop with the Fiji Labour Party recorded the highest number of participants. It was equally represented, with members traveling from as far as the West and North. Other parties which also attended the workshops were the People’s Democratic Party, Fiji United Freedom’s Party, and the Social Democratic Liberal Party.

In this workshop, Mr Saneem enlightened the participants on the very basics of the Electoral processes and matters that are of concern to the Political Parties. The topics discussed included: Election Administration, Voter Registration, Political Party registration and conduct, Voting processes, the Writ to Writ period, Results and Seat allocation. The participants even asked questions on issues that needed clarification.

The participants commented that the sessions were very informative and helpful as they prepare for the upcoming 2018 General Election.

Male workers of the Fijian Elections Office [FEO] got their mustaches shaved last month as the Prostate Cancer Awareness celebration concluded at the FEO headquarters in Toorak, Suva.

Fiji Cancer Society communications coordinator Kali Turagaiviu along with other staff members of the society attended the event which was opened by the Supervisor of Elections Mr Mohammed Saneem.

While addressing the staff, Mr Saneem remarked that males should not shy away from taking Prostate Cancer Tests as this disease can have a negative effect in one’s life in the long run. He also added that females play a major role in encouraging their male counterpart to take tests.

Mr Turagaiviu presented at the event on causes, effects and prevention of Prostate Cancer.

The event lit up as female staff of the FEO began to bid for shaving moustaches of their male co-workers.

19 male staff along with the Supervisor of Elections got their mustaches shaved in order to collect donation money for the Fiji Cancer Society.

A total of $3031.00 were collected.

The FEO organized this event to promote Movember, an advocacy month that calls for men to grow the manliest mustaches they can muster to raise awareness about Prostate Cancer.

The event was held on Wednesday, 29 November 2017.

Voter Awareness:

Voter awareness has become a crucial and important function of the Fijian Elections Office [FEO] particularly in sensitizing voters about the elections process, voting process; the importance of being at the right polling venue come Election Day and what you can do if you are not sure about where to vote.

In light of this, the Awareness team has started to conduct voter info sessions in Suva, Naitasiri, and Rewa. These request based sessions have come through the Ministry of Information in their quest to empower youths in Fiji about their democratic right to vote in light of the upcoming 2018 General Election.

A total of 150 youths have so far been enlightened with Fiji’s electoral information including being taken through a mock voting exercise in which the participants themselves acted not only as voters but as election officials [formerly Polling Day Workers]. The exercise has proven to be an exciting content of the voter info session, drawing in more numbers of participants as the program progresses from week to week in selected areas in the Central Division.

Media Awareness:

To supplement our voter awareness sessions, the FEO has also taken to the media to add emphasis on the fact that the 2018 General Election is not too far away, and that it is imperative for voters to update their voter details as we expect an early election in 2018.

The Supervisor of Elections [SoE] has appeared in TV and radio talkback shows these last few days sharing about updated electoral information in order to sensitize voters about the elections process, voting process, and the electoral calendar from when the Election Day is announced to when the Writ for Election is returned.

Special focus on these media programs has also been directed to registered voters who wish to work on Election Day, to come out in number during Phase 2 of the Recruitment Drive. FEO’s aggressive awareness campaigns in the past have proven to be fruitful with a total of 13, 574 applications received after Phase 1 of the Recruitment Drive.

Social media Awareness:

FEO’s Facebook [FB] page continues to draw in more followers’ day in and day out. Since the last edition of this publication, the number of FB followers has increased to 47,000.

FEO’s FB page boasts videos, interviews, press conferences and advertisements including updates and schedules for any FEO public event.

In October 2017, 20 staff from the Fijian Elections Office were sent to South Korea for training on the use of Touchscreen Voting (TSV) Machines for Industrial Elections.

Apart from the hands-on experience with the TSV Machines, the group was also provided a glimpse into the lifestyle and culture of South Korea.

Seoul, the capital of Korea is a metropolis of high rise buildings, modern infrastructure, and services on par (in not above) with any Western economy. The group found the experience enlightening and enriching.

While we stayed and trained in Incheon, we were taken on a tour of Seoul Sky, the fifth tallest building in the world. The observation deck provided a breathtaking, uninterrupted view of the city.

The group had the opportunity to be part of a formal tea ceremony and dressed up as traditional Korean royalty. We also visited the royal palace and were told of the tragic end of the royal bloodline due to the Japanese occupation.

Korea is also very popular for shopping and the group easily mastered the underground rail system within a day or two. On most evenings, the group took a one-hour train ride from Incheon to Seoul to walk around the city, shop and enjoy the experience of being in a foreign country.

Our hosts A-WEB also made every effort to ensure our stay was as enjoyable and productive as possible.

(November 19, 2017) – The Pacific Islands Forum Election Observer Team to the 2017 Tonga National Parliamentary Elections has concluded its mission in Tonga. The election was held on 16 November 2017.

The Forum Observer Team comprised Mr Wilson Waguk (Team Leader), Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Federated States of Micronesia to Fiji, and Ms Anaseini Senimoli, Director of Operations of the Fijian Elections Office. The Team was supported by Forum Secretariat officials.

The Observer Team deployed to ‘Eua and Tongatapu and observed the opening of polls, polling and counting. The Team observed polling in all constituencies on both Tongatapu and ‘Eua.

The Team also observed the pre-polling environment in Tongatapu. Campaigning was robust and energetic but orderly. On the election proper, from what Team members observed, the election was efficiently and effectively conducted with voters free to cast their votes without intimidation or coercion.

“We are pleased to offer our congratulations to the Tonga Electoral Commission on the successful conduct of the election” said Mr Waguk.

“Even though the Commission had a shorter time to prepare due to the snap elections, we are of the view that the Electoral Commission delivered a free and credible election. We equally recognise the contribution by other Government agencies and the voting public toward the success of the election.

Ms Seniloli added: “Polling officials and police officers in all the stations we visited are to be commended for their professionalism in carrying out their duties. We met police and polling officials who were polite, efficient, and helpful and we were pleased to observe extra care and support being provided to elderly voters and people living with disabilities.”

There were some minor procedural issues observed however, the Team does not believe these were deliberate or affected the results. “The issues we observed were not widespread and did not appear to be systematic or malicious” said Mr Waguk. “These include minor inconsistencies in procedure across the stations we visited.”

Prior to the election the Forum Observer Team undertook joint consultations with the Commonwealth Observer Team and met with a wide range of stakeholders from both within and outside government.

“We want to sincerely thank everyone who took the time to meet with the Observer Teams. We’ll each produce a report of our observations and recommendations for the Government of Tonga and the Tonga Electoral Commission to consider,” Mr Waguk said.

The Forum Team also acknowledged the cooperation and partnership with the Commonwealth Observer Team, led by Ms Margaret Wilson DCNZM, former Speaker of Parliament and Attorney General of New Zealand.

-Ends-

Please forward all media queries to the FEO Communications team at communications@feo.org.fj

The Election Planning Workshop was held from July 17-19 at the Holiday Inn, Suva. The Workshop was attended by the Electoral Commissioners, Supervisor of Elections as well as various departmental heads within the Fijian Elections Office.

The objective of this Workshop was to ensure that all projects and activities from the Strategic Plan are revised and up to date, leading up to the 2018 General Election. It was also essential to ensure that vital election functions are critically analyzed and challenges are identified, so that these can be addressed ahead of election time. Logistics planning, Nationwide and Overseas Voter Registration Drives, postal voting, as well as opening of Divisional Offices and Voter Services Centers were among some of the key areas that were discussed in detail.

Amongst the key outcomes of the Workshop, was to have an updated calendar of events and awareness plan leading up to the 2018 General Election. The Logistics Plan, Recruitment Plan, and Training Plan were also finalized.

One of the groundbreaking recommendations that came from the Workshop was the introduction of Hubs, as well as the demarcation of duties between the Divisional Offices and the Hubs. The polling venue officials will now report to the Hubs, who will then report to the Divisional Offices.

Public outreach and awareness was identified as one of the key areas of focus for the Fijian Elections Office for the 2018 General Election. It is critical to keep the general public well informed in order to increase transparency and accountability in all aspects of the work of the Fijian Elections Office.

The successful completion of the Election Planning Workshop ensured that all internal stakeholders are aware of critical functions and timelines until issue of Writ for the 2018 General Election. The team agreed to have another Workshop to develop a similar plan covering the Period of Issue of Writ until the Return of Writ.