Voter Registration in Fiji one-third of the way to target

Jul 24, 2012, 08:00 ET from Republic of Fiji

Momentum continues to increase

SUVA, Fiji, July 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fiji's Electronic Voter Registration (EVR) is now more than one-third of the way to reaching the Government's target of registering 600,000 Fijians. At the end of the third week of EVR, the total stands at 211,291.

"We are happy that momentum is continuing to grow for voter registration," the Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said. "EVR is now in full stride as we continue to open new registration centers across the country."

In order to reach the 600,000 mark, an average of 10,000 Fijians a day must register over the course of the 60-day registration period. As of Sunday, July 22, EVR has averaged slightly more than 10,550 a day, a figure that includes totals for the first week when only a limited number of registration centers were open.

"This is an encouraging sign to all Fijians that we are on track," said the Attorney-General.  "Government continues to urge those Fijians who have not yet registered to do so, and for those who have registered, to act as ambassadors for the process by telling friends and family how simple and quick registration is."

Tuesday, July 03, marked the nation-wide launch of Fiji's EVR. This followed the official launch on Friday, June 29, in Suva, where the Prime Minister received the first voter card.

The eight-week period of voter registration is being undertaken with the collaborative guidance of CODE Inc., a Canadian company that has assisted in voter registration processes in a number of developing countries that subsequently held successful elections.  

CODE, Inc. has provided biometric voter registration systems (BVRS) that incorporate biometric technology and electronic voter registry software to ensure accurate voter identification, which will help to eliminate voter fraud during the scheduled 2014 elections.

Additionally, 1,050 volunteers, who were selected on merit, have been trained as registration clerks to travel throughout Fiji to more than 1,000 voter registration centers to help uphold standards of accuracy and transparency in the registration process.

"This is a historic moment for Fiji, particularly considering the country's political history," stated the Attorney-General. "The Bainimarama Government has taken care to ensure the challenges and issues pointed out in the 2006 EU report will not be repeated, and that moving forward we establish, for the first time in Fiji, a democratic system that is based on the principle of one person, one vote, one value."

While the official statistics remain to be confirmed, a significant percentage of voters in the scheduled 2014 elections will be under the age of 35, and many of them will be first-time voters. Much of this is due to the Bainimarama Government's decision to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, empowering young Fijians to engage with and participate in the elections process in order to have a say in the future direction of the nation.

"It is critical that this registration process be inclusive of all Fijians of voting age and that it be conducted with integrity and accountability so that, at the time of nation-wide elections in 2014, both Fijians and the international community know that the preceding processes were credible and transparent," the Attorney-General said.

Registration continues at centers across the country.

SOURCE Republic of Fiji