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.