Fiji's NFP reports confusion over pre-polling
Fiji's National Federation Party says pre-polling due to start this week is confused, rushed and disorganised and there are voters who still don't know they are meant to vote before election day.
Fiji's National Federation Party says pre-polling due to start this week is confused, rushed and disorganised.
Elections authorities announced a week ago (24th August) voting for the September 17th election would take place in remote areas over a ten day period starting on Wednesday. (September 3rd)
The police, military, and prisoners are among other voters also allowed to vote during this time.
The NFP's leader Biman Prasad told Sally Round there are voters who still don't know they are meant to vote before election day.
BIMAN PRASAD: Pre-polling in some areas is necessary. We have some very isolated islands and places but I think the Electoral Commission and the Elections Office has not organised this very well because some of the pre-polling are in areas where it was not necessary and also we're concerned that those voters in those pre-polling areas may not have been fully informed. I just came from a meeting last evening in a place around Sigatoka Valley where there is a pre-polling station and it appeared to me after talking to the people that some of them did not know yet that they were supposed to be voting earlier than September 17th, so what we are doing is calling upon the Electoral Commission and the Supervisor of Elections to ensure that all those communities around those pre-polling areas are informed fully and there's a concerted campaign to inform them that they will be actually voting before September 17th so that they don't miss out. So that would be our concern.
SALLY ROUND: And was this village particularly remote? Could you see a reason for the pre-polling to happen there?
BP: That's what I'm saying, the area where I was last evening, it's not a remote area. The reason the people gave there is it's a flood prone area so perhaps that was the reason they used. But to me it didn't sound a very convincing reason to have pre-polling in that area which is very, very accessible and two or three kilometres from Sigatoka town.
SR: So what was the name of that area?
SR: And is it a surprise to you that pre-polling is happening two weeks before the election?
BP: It's a matter of concern because for one thing people are not being informed properly that there would be pre-polling but we are also concerned that the way in which the pre-polling areas have been determined is not strictly on the basis of remote areas or those who would be engaged in the delivery of essential services on the day of the election. So it's a bit confused and it's a bit rushed and it's a bit unorganised in the sense that not all the people around those polling stations would be fully informed that they would have to vote early.
SR: Are you clear about what you are allowed to do in terms of campaigning around those areas that are being pre-polled?
BP: Well there is no restriction in terms of campaigning but I think the normal rules that are there in the Electoral Decree ... keeping away political party banners, and if you're to build sheds you've got observe the distance and all that ... those normal rules will apply. Pre-polling lists are available and that's out in the public. There's quite a few. It's not just a small number and the time that is there for candidates and those campaigning in those areas to get to the voters and get them their (candidate) numbers is a bit of a nightmare. I think the timing is too short in terms of our candidates and those from other political parties getting to those areas, getting their (candidate) numbers to these people.
The Fijian Elections Office started distributing voter instruction booklets on Saturday to pre-polling areas and the main newspapers carried sample ballot papers at the weekend.
It says it will continue to distribute material in the coming days.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: