Opinion : How to Make Your Vote Count On November 14

One of the greatest rights every­one in Fiji has been granted is the right to vote for your gov­ernment. Your vote, every vote, will directly af­fect the sort of government
27 Oct 2018 16:14
Opinion : How to Make Your Vote Count On November 14

One of the greatest rights every­one in Fiji has been granted is the right to vote for your gov­ernment.

Your vote, every vote, will directly af­fect the sort of government Fiji has for the next four years, the laws the gov­ernment enacts and the way the aver­age person is treated.

More importantly, the way you vote will affect the way the government acts; because to govern a political party needs to have sufficient votes to form a government and a good enough majority to ensure that they can have the legislation they propose voted into law.

These things are in the hands of eve­ryone in Fiji and each person has a duty to ensure that they vote for what they believe.

Importance of your vote

The first and most important thing is that you do vote. Unfortunately, there are people who choose not to vote, for many reasons, but in doing so they give up the right to have a say in the way they want Fiji to be.

Some people miss out on voting even when they want to do so and that is sad. There are a number of reasons this could happen and if they do miss out the reason will almost always be their mistake.

What you need to know

To vote, you need to be registered and the registration process stopped as soon as the Writ of Elections was signed by the President.

You need to be at your specified poll­ing booth and you will not be allowed to vote at any other place, so make sure you know where to go, you must vote at the time the polling is open and you must mark your ballot paper correctly.

Check before you leave home.

You also vote for only one person and everyone on the ballot paper has a number.

You need to know the number of the person you want to vote for and it is best to know this in advance.

Now comes the important part. The way we vote in Fiji is somewhat unique (but in my opinion very effective).

Unlike the past, there is only one con­stituency in Fiji. This means in theory every elected member is responsible to the whole country, but the smart par­ties in effect choose candidates who have a strong attachment to different areas in the country and can advise government on what each area needs to grow and support Fiji.

So when you vote you should seek to do so for a candidate you believe will understand your area or your ambi­tion for Fiji and represent it well. Find their number and vote for them. They may not actually live in your area, but choose someone you trust to best rep­resent your needs.

When you vote, you will mark the number of a single candidate, but be­cause of our voting system you also au­tomatically vote for the Political Party that candidate represents.

There is a lot of confusion about how this works, but it is really simple. To be elected to Parliament each candidate needs to have 5000 votes, no more, no less. If a candidate gets more than 5000 votes, the number of extra votes goes into a pool which is controlled by the Party.

After you vote

After counting is complete, the candi­dates who gained a primary vote below 5000 are allocated extra from the pool of unused votes to bring them up to the 5000 number.

The allocation is done on the basis of how many votes they received, and they are ranked in numerical order from the highest down and each candi­date is given extra votes, with the high­est first, until the pool of unused votes is exhausted.

Because of this, it is important that you vote for the person you think will support what you want in government so that the candidate gets high enough up the numerical order to ensure extra votes are still available if their prima­ry votes fail to reach the 5000 point.

In the last election

In the last election the high profile candidates such as the PM and Oppo­sition Leader got a lot more than 5000 votes and the extra went into the pool, but some good candidates missed out because they polled under the point where the top up votes ran out.

Just because the candidate you be­lieve in didn’t get into Parliament on the first round, there is still a chance they will make it at a later date.

If a Parliamentary position becomes vacant (through death of a sitting member, retirement or some other rea­son), that seat is filled by the next can­didate on the numerical list.

So again, your vote for the individual candidate could result in a seat in Par­liament. In the last Parliament, some candidates entered almost three years after the start of the Government through the vacant seat replacement system.

This programme also avoids the need for an expensive by-election for a sin­gle vacant seat and ensures that the political party elected at the General Election is the government for the full term required by the constitution.

The Australian Federal Government has for the last year been unstable be­cause they do not have the system of replacing members who are forced to leave Parliament being replaced by candidates from the same party.

For all the allocation of unused votes from the pool, the Fijian Electoral Commission has to be consulted and they determine the allocation ensur­ing that the rules are followed.

This system ensures that the party that gets the most votes in the country forms the government and those can­didates from that political party that did not reach the required number are elected in relation to their total vote.

So, the mark you will make on the bal­lot paper can have a big impact on the outcome of the General Election and the sort of government we get for the next four years.

It’s important, it’s an honour and your right, so for Fiji please take it se­riously. On November 14 the country is in your hands.


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