NATION

‘Voter Roll Anomalies Do Not Raise Confidence’

 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
22 Sep 2018 10:00
‘Voter Roll Anomalies Do Not Raise Confidence’
SODELPA party leader Sitiveni Rabuka.
  •  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 in a continuing series of articles on the 2018 General Elections

Anomalies in the voter roll issued on August 1, 2018, by the Fiji Elections Office (FEO) create a lot of doubt in the Supervisor of Elections and the Electoral Commission’s preparedness for the 2018 election.

In the article published last Saturday September 15, 2018, I raised the issue of 208 polling stations from Ra and Tailevu Provinces with 65,540 voters reallocated or “moved” to Kadavu Province, according to the Voter Roll released to SODELPA by the FEO. See http://bit.ly/VoterRollAnomalies for details.

In response, the FEO Director Operations advised political parties to seek clarification from the FEO before going public with their concerns.

In fact, SODELPA had already questioned the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) on September 3, 2018, while there is no legal requirement that parties raise issues with the FEO first before expressing their concerns publicly.

Furthermore, the FEO has a habit of announcing complaints to FICAC, investigations into political parties, or making accusations and statements about political parties before consulting them first.

The “error” increased the total number of voters in the Eastern Division by over 65,500, when the previous total was only about 25,000 registered voters. This represents more than 10 per cent of the 631,895 registered voters as of August 1, 2018, so this error, if it was an error, is very significant.

On September 3, 2018, the Supervisor of Elections was asked, but he did not explain that this was not an error, but is rather an internal administrative arrangement, see http://bit.ly/SOE_Explanation.

A FEW QUESTIONS ARISE GIVEN THE RESPONSE FROM THE FEO:

  •  If the administrative arrangement was in place on September 3, 2018, why couldn’t the SOE simply explain this?
  •  If the Eastern Division is being managed from the FEO’s office in Ovalau, why are these 208 stations listed to Kadavu, rather than to Lomaiviti (where Ovalau is)?
  •  Are there any other Polling Stations being managed from divisions other than where they are geographically located, similar to these 208 polling stations?

Why are these 208 Polling Stations, which come under “Hubs” in Korovou, Rakiraki and Tavua, being allocated to an office in a different island altogether (Levuka, Ovalau) – the FEO could easily have a second or assistant divisional manager in their Western and Central Division offices to help the respective Divisional Manager, rather than allocating these 208 polling stations to the Eastern Division in Levuka, Ovalau?

  •  Is it possible that the FEO delivered the wrong Voter Roll to SODELPA and rather than admit a mistake, this peculiar story is being advanced to cover up a simple mistake?
  •  Is it possible that this is a data entry error and rather than admit a mistake, this peculiar story is being advanced to cover up the error?

THERE ARE FOUR OTHER MAJOR CHALLENGES IDENTIFIED IN THE 2018 VOTER ROLL OF AUGUST 1, 2018, FROM FEO.

  1. The Supervisor of Elections, when releasing the August 1, 2018 Roll, announced that 631,895 voters had been registered so far by FEO, and that the total had decreased by 7684 deceased voters who had been removed from the Roll since June when 636,764 voters were announced. See http://bit.ly/SOE_Roll_010818 .

However, the actual count of registered voters on the Voter Roll released August 1, 2018, shows only 628,632 registered voters – a difference of 3263 voters.

  1. The FEO has advised that there are 1437 Polling Venues approved for 2018, (including 1 for Postal Voting), but there are only 1422 venues in the Voter Roll released 1/8/18, a difference of 15 Venues.

Accounting for 13 venues for disciplined services, and 1 allocated for postal votes, the 15th venue is unidentified.

  1. 13 Polling Venues for Disciplined Services are not listed.

This was raised with the Electoral Commission in our letter of 6th and 16th August 2018, to which we still have not received a response, over a month later. See http://bit.ly/060818toEC and http://bit.ly/LetterToEC16Aug.

  1. Overseas-based citizens registered to vote by the FEO are not listed in the Roll of 1/8/18.

MISSING POLLING VENUES

Missing polling venues basically means the party cannot identify all venues to ensure we have Polling Agents present at all these venues.

We questioned why 13 venues have been separated from the Voter Roll, as it means the Roll is incomplete.

We also question why disciplined services are voting at their workplaces, rather than where they reside.

3263 MISSING VOTERS

Anomalies between figures announced by the Supervisor of Elections as the total voter count and what’s actually in the Roll, are another cause for concern:

  •  Where are these “missing” and “unidentified” voters?;
  •  Are they overseas?; or
  •  Are they voters from disciplined services?

The SOE has requested parties to help with verification of the Roll and this cannot be done when it appears that voters are missing given the 3263 difference between the SOE’s announcement and the names actually in the Roll given to SODELPA.

This series of articles on the 2018 General Elections will continue next week.

Authorised by: Sitiveni L Rabuka Party Leader

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