Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Fiji: Almost half a million have registered to vote in the first wave of electronic voter registration

SOURCE Republic of Fiji

Almost half a million have registered to vote in the first wave of electronic voter registration (EVR) for the 2014 elections. This represents around 80 percent of current eligible domestic voters, with another period of registration to come later in the year, and the first registrations of Fijians living abroad to begin next year.

At the close of the first phase of sixty-one days, 488,734 Fijians registered at Voter Registration Centers (VRCs) that were open in locations across the country.

"This is a great achievement as Fiji moves toward parliamentary elections in 2014," the Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said.

"The overwhelming turn-out of the Fijian people is a clear indication of their willingness and commitment to participate in the process of building a better Fiji for all."

"A Fiji that provides the legal and moral foundation for a common and equal citizenry. Where there is no legal obligation to vote along ethnic lines, but where every Fijian over the age of 18 has an equal vote to cast as they choose."

The Fijian Elections Office employed a biometric voter registration solution designed by the Canadian company CODE Inc. This included the hardware, software, training and support that allowed the Elections Office to register Fijian voters and issue Voter Identification Cards (VICs).

Through the incorporation of biometric safeguards, this technology will help the Elections Office to produce a clean voter list and to eliminate voter fraud during the scheduled 2014 elections.

Registration was carried out by 1,050 registration clerks who were selected on merit. Registration clerks were posted at VRCs that were open in urban centers across the country. Registration clerks were also sent directly to maritime and rural communities, whose populations otherwise would have had difficulty travelling to register.

During the final two weeks of the registration period, mobile registration teams also conducted home visits for those Fijians whose health, age, or disability genuinely prevented them from going to a registration center. Mobile registration teams were also sent to large companies and schools in order to facilitate registration for employees and students of voting age.

"Fiji's Electronic Voter Registration marks an important turning-point for Fiji," the Minister said. "Not only did we introduce new technology to protect and uphold the integrity and credibility of the voter list, but we also relied on Fijians' desire to freely participate in this process, thereby breaking from the precedent of compulsory door-to-door registration that had existed previously."

"The Fijian people have responded to this call and have demonstrated their desire and confidence to engage with the fundamental reform processes underway."

Registration will now close for at least a two-and-a-half month period while the Elections Office carries out data verification and analysis. The data analysis will allow officials to best determine how to cater to the needs of the individuals, communities and locations that might require additional attention during the next phase of registration.

As voter registration comes to a close, public consultations for a new constitution continue as the independent Constitutional Commission travels around the country receiving submissions.