Parties say FEO’s Lack of Preparedness could result in Low Voter Turnout
February 13, 2022
The Fijian Elections Office has so far not shown it is ready to re-register tens of thousands of voters who need new voter cards because of last year’s voting law changes, say the People’s Alliance Party (PAP) and the National Federation Party (NFP).
In a joint letter to Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem on Friday 11 February, both parties are concerned FEO’s disorganisation could cause low voter turnout in the coming general elections.
The two parties point to the very long queues outside the single FEO centre that is handling the re-registrations, with many voters waiting for hours and wasting valuable time in those lines.
Elections could be held as early as July, five months away. Yet, say the General Secretaries for the PAP and NFP, political parties have been told nothing about FEO's election preparations roll-out.
In their joint letter, Sakiasi Ditoka of PAP and Seni Nabou of NFP asked the FEO to set up an organized timetable of face-to-face meetings with political parties in the lead-up to the election.
Mr Ditoka and Ms Nabou also expressed concern about the long lines and claustrophobic voter registration environment for voters trying to re-register. This only added to the inconvenience and unnecessary expense to voters in rural areas, who want to organise and finalize their voter ID registration well in advance of elections.
Both parties have expressed deep dissatisfaction that at the current rate of elections preparations. They say a repeat of the low voter turnout in 2018 is not in anybody's interest and needs rapid work on all fronts.
Turnout of all registered voters in 2014 was 84.6%. This sank to 71.9% in 2018.
Both parties also sought urgent guidance on whether a new voter ID card was even needed for the majority of voters who are already registered in the National Register of Voters (NRV). Section 51(1) of the Electoral Act says that any other form of ID, if accepted by the Supervisor of Elections or Presiding Officer at polling stations as in previous elections) allowed individuals registered in the NRV to vote.
PAP and NFP say they are awaiting the SOE’s response.
Mr Sakiasi Ditoka Ms Seni Nabou
General Secretary General Secretary
The People’s Alliance (PA) National Federation Party (NFP)
Encl: Joint Letter to SOE