FEO highlights inconsistencies in record analysis

June 9, 2023 3:09 pm

The Fijian Elections Office is conducting a meticulous analysis of the Presiding Officers’ Record Book used during the 2022 general election.

Acting Supervisor of Elections Ana Mataiciwa says these record books serve as a vital repository of data recorded by presiding officers during elections.

She says with a total of 2053 record books, the FEO has completed the analysis of 1088 books from Election Day and 379 from pre-poll sessions.

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Mataiciwa states that the primary objective is to gather information on assisted voting for persons with disabilities, determining whether they availed themselves of personal assistance or relied on presiding officers.

Acting Supervisor of Elections Ana Mataiciwa. 

Additionally, data on complaints and disturbances at polling stations is being collected.

The acting SoE says the analysis has revealed inconsistencies in various processes, as identified in the 2022 general election review.

This provides the FEO with an opportunity to scrutinize the procedures implemented at polling stations, with a focus on understanding the underlying reasons for these inconsistencies.

“You might be wondering, okay, why they are assessing the polling venues now because the election has just finished. The reason being is that after our 2022 General Election review, we’ve received some information from the polling venue owners issues such as accessibility. So this is something that we want to go and check ourselves whether there was indeed, some situations that arose from the polling stations such as accessibility that was provided.”

Mataiciwa says the FEO has conducted assessments of polling venues.

To date, 506 out of 575 venues have been assessed, while 69 assessments are still pending completion. These assessments are crucial for identifying issues related to accessibility—a long-standing concern in voting procedures.

Among the notable inconsistencies observed, Mataiciwa highlights that certain electronic devices were permitted in polling venues but not inside polling stations. Despite prior approval, media representatives faced difficulties utilizing electronic devices on the ground.

Another discrepancy, she states, relates to the opening time of polling stations, which, according to legislation, should be at 7:30 am. However, some stations deviated from this schedule, opening a few minutes earlier or later. In addition, inconsistencies were noted in assisted voting, highlighting the need for a more standardized approach.

Addressing the issue of accessibility has been a priority, and the FEO has embarked on a four-year work plan. Collaborating with stakeholders, they aim to incorporate activities and recommendations from the review into their strategic plan.

By doing so, the FEO seeks to ensure an appropriate response to the challenges highlighted by stakeholders.