Vote of Thanks by the Supervisor of Elections

Mr Mohammed Saneem

Voting Screen Handover

Suva – 09/03/2018

The CEO of New Zealand Electoral Commission,

Chairperson and members of the Electoral Commission

The New Zealand High Commissioner,

Distinguished invited guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka to you all.

Today I would like to start by once again thanking Alicia for accepting our invitation. It is a pleasure to have you in Fiji. We were certainly looking forward to have the Chief Electoral Officer from New Zealand arrive in Fiji before the 2018 General Election.

It’s always encouraging for my team to receive a personality from another electoral management body, a much larger and established electoral management body.

It is always a boost for our morale as well as for the energy in the office to be in your company. So once again, welcome to the Fijian Elections Office.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the New Zealand assistance to the 2014 General Election was considerable. We had several Technical Advisors on the ground here at the FEO and they helped develop and manage so many processes to allow us to run a credible election.

In 2014, New Zealand also provided us with these cardboard voting screens. That was the first time in Fiji, voters voted in an open and conducive environment rather than tall wooden triangular structures covered behind curtains. I believe an open polling station where one can see everything going on was the first appreciation of the high level of voter satisfaction in 2014.

Immediately after the review and reporting phase in 2014, the New Zealand Electoral Commission invited us to Wellington for a series of discussions and familiarization programs with the operations of the NZEC and elections in New Zealand generally.

Significant discussions took place on our plans for the next 4 years and how the FEO was planning to develop capacity and its systems and processes to enhance electoral practices in the country.

I had many many plans and the visit allowed me to visualize many of them for Fiji. There was no going backwards from there, it was only forward, only better, more efficient and with a bit of Fijian flavor.

We secured a 5 year support and assistance program for the Electoral Commission and the Fijian Elections Office. This comprehensive support program allowed the FEO to access capacity building programs through study visits, election visitor programs, regional events collaboration and also technical support to allow us direct access to experienced, skilled election professionals nearly one a week.

Ladies and gentlemen, these elections professionals are committed and dedicated individuals that work very closely with our staff together as a family.

We haven’t had a situation where someone says to us that ‘I’m just a consultant’, and we are proud of that. Our Technical Advisors have always ensured that they mix around with the staff, provide the necessary guidance and at the same time provide that level of expectations that staff make sure that delivers the requirements.

To assist with the 2018 General Election, we asked if the NZEC could once again assist us with the Cardboard Voting Screens and they humbly agreed.

I am sure that on Election Day in Fiji, Fijian voters will see the white cardboard voting screens in every Polling Station they visit.

A special appreciated to the New Zealand Electoral Commission as well in terms of the design that they have for they cover for persons with disability or for person who cannot get to a voting screen.

There is a disability friendly voting screen that can be taken outside the polling station and placed on the lap of a voter or on a table outside incase the voter cannot come in.

This is a very inclusive design and we are greatly appreciative of the sharing that the New Zealand Electoral Commission has done with us and every box that you see, has one disability friendly voting screen. So every polling station will have that voting screen to assist with voting for persons with disabilities particularly for those who cannot come inside.

I would like to thank all our guests who have accepted our invitation and are in attendance at this event. We look forward to your continued participation in our future events.

I would like to thank the New Zealand Government for its interest in developing electoral capacity in Fiji. The support program has indeed been positive for both our country and the team here at the FEO.

I would also like to thank Alicia, Diedre, Robert, and the team at NZEC for their continued commitment and dedication to this program. We are proud of the friends we have made in the last 4 years.

Thank you Alicia once again for your visit and we hope you enjoy your short stay with us and thank you for the voting screens.

Vinaka Vakalevu.