‘Concerns About Supervisor of Elections Bias And Mistakes in 2018 Voter Rolls
Sitiveni Rabuka is Party Leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) and former Prime Minister. The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of Sitiveni Rabuka and not of the Fiji Sun. This is the fourth of a series of articles by Sitiveni Rabuka on concerns from political parties on the 2018 general elections
“I bet they will not even be able to have polling agents at all the polling stations. They should focus on that.” ~ Mohammad Saneem, Supervisor of Elections, 17 August 2018, at the Training of Trainers for PrePoll (available online at https://www.feo.org.fj/statementby-the-supervisor-of-elections-mrmohammed-saneem-training-oftrainers-for-pre-poll-17-08-18-suva/)
Six political parties, Freedom Alliance, Fiji Labour Party, National Federation Party (NFP), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Unity Fiji and Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) have been raising issues and concerns regarding the general elections and whether it will be free and fair. The above statement quoted above, uttered by the Supervisor of Elections is unfortunately indicative of his arrogance, bias and politicised attitude. His biased response is obvious in the responses to our letters and our genuine attempts for consultation and dialogue. To date, we still await a response from the Electoral Commission to our letter of 16th August. One of the 19 issues we have raised with the Commission is our request for a logistics workshop. The workshop will enable parties to train the estimated 7500 polling agents needed to cover the 2468 polling stations nationwide in the 2018 election. While the Electoral Office has had three years to recruit and train the over 11,000 polling day workers who will run the 2018 elections, we are informed that the logistics workshop will only be held two weeks after the writ is issued - we are expected to train 7,500 agents in a 3 week period before pre-polling begins five weeks after the writ is issued, two weeks before voting day. The question is, how practical is this suggestion? Unfortunately, this is the kind of unfair and biased treatment that political parties receive from the Fiji Elections Office without due consideration of key constraints associated with such training. Nonetheless, it is our responsibility to do our best as political parties despite being hobbled by the Electoral Decrees and a biased elections machinery. We, therefore, call on citizens to put their hands up, and collectively work together to ensure our election is free and fair and held in a transparent and accountable manner. Political Parties are not asking for special treatment, but to be treated fairly. As we have said since 2014, we want a level playing field, where the referee is unbiased, and
‘Nonetheless, it is our responsibility to do our best as political parties despite being hobbled by the Electoral Decrees and a biased elections machinery. We, therefore, call on citizens to put their hands up, and collectively work together to ensure our election is free and fair and held in a transparent and accountable manner.’ - Sitiveni Rabuka
the goalposts are not being moved constantly. The least we could hope for is that the Electoral Office is independent, yet here we have the Supervisor of Elections himself wishing and hoping that Parties are not able to have enough agents to observe at the 2,468 polling stations. Let’s prove Saneem wrong Fiji, join us today and become a Polling Agent to observe the 2018 elections.
Concerns about errors in 2018 Voter Roll
I am also gravely concerned about errors in the 2018 Voter Roll. Parties are required to pay $1,000 to receive a PDF copy of the Roll. We are dismayed to discover that the Roll released on 1 August 2018, shows 65,000 voters moved from Tailevu and Ra Provinces, to Kadavu Province. In total, we see that 208 polling stations have been wrongly allocated from Tailevu and Ra Provinces, to Kadavu Province. That is 65,000+ voters wrongly allocated to the Eastern Division. See http://bit.ly/ElectionConcerns for the full list of stations wrongly allocated and screenshots of the record for each of these stations from the Voter Roll issued by the Elections Office on August 1, 2018. We do not consider this a minor error and we now have grave doubts about the proclaimed readiness of the Elections Office for elections when these kinds of mistakes are being made.