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Political parties call for changes to ballot paper

April 12, 2014 10:35 pm

Political parties are calling for changes to be made to the ballot paper that will be used in the upcoming elections.

The parties relayed their concerns to the Electoral Commission during a recent meeting and the Supervisor of Elections on Friday.

The ballot paper will be printed on an A3 size paper with almost three hundred numbers written in square grids and each number will represent a candidate.

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Fiji Labour Party President Lavenia Padarath says they want a ballot paper that will be simple for ordinary Fijians to use.

“We are very concerned about the ballot papers carrying no names but the numbers. We want to be able to simplify. We need to simplify the ballot paper for our people, particularly at grassroots, not so well educated. I think we owe it to them.”

People’s Democratic Party President Adi Sivia Qoro says the ballot paper should be easy to use and not confuse voters.

“Our request is to make voting as simple as possible in as far as our voters is concerned. At the end of the day, it is them that is the priority.”

The National Federation Party President Dr Biman Prasad shared the same sentiments.

“With numbers only it is going to be a nightmare for our voters. We hope the Commission will take into consideration the changes that political parties have proposed for the ballot paper.”

SODELPA General Secretary Pio Tabaiwalu says the ballot paper will put undue pressure on the voter.

“The voters will either put a circle, an x or a tick in the number of the candidate, But whilst there, he is just confronted with a number on the card. To us, that is a very very unfair process to the voters.”

However Supervisor of Elections Mohamed Saneem says they will provide voter education to every Fijian that will vote.

“The Fijian Elections Office will operate on the promise that we will educate all voters to have the necessary information that will allow them to vote. We will provide inside the polling stations a candidates list which will have photos and names of the candidate the voter wished to vote for. The number of that candidate will be written just beside the candidate. In terms of finding the candidate number, we are not forcing a voter to vote quickly. You have the time to vote and you can take your time to find the number of the candidate you are looking for and vote for that person.”

He adds, the ballot paper will remain as it is.

“The ballot paper as it is under the Decree will not have the names, party symbols or any other information except for the number itself.”

On the other hand, the ballot paper will have security features, which will make it difficult for anyone to duplicate and it should be ready by the first of September.

The national candidates list will be prepared after the Fiji Elections Office does a draw of all the candidates running for elections and assign numbers to them. That is the number the candidate will have on the ballot paper, which voters either will tick, circle or cross.

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