Saneem clarifies counting process

Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem during the press conference yesterday. Picture: Supplied

Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem during the press conference yesterday. Picture: Supplied

SUPERVISOR of Elections Mohammed Saneem says ballot paper counting will not be done at the national centre in Suva on election day.

At a press conference yesterday, he said at 6pm on election day, the presiding officer would announce that polling was closed, after he or she sees that the polling station is empty and no one was in the queue.

The presiding officer would then undertake the reconciliation of ballot papers, between the ballot papers issued for that station and the ballot papers used, and the number of voters who turned up to cast their votes.

He said once this was completed and the numbers reconciled, the presiding officer would proceed to open the sealed ballot boxes and the papers tossed on to the table at the polling stations.

“The empty ballot box will then be showed to those who are there, and then the ballot papers on the table will be mixed, it is not necessarily to mix but it is a good practice,” Mr Saneem said.

Ballot papers will then be straightened and sorted according to column, number and range in front of everyone allowed into the room.

The next step involved is the sorting of papers by the numbers, for example, if candidate number 508 received three votes from that station, the presiding officer would place all votes together and this will continue until they reached the last candidate number.

He said once sorted, those would be the result for candidates in that polling station.

“Once the entire results are complete, the reconciliation is done it all adds up, the presiding officer writes that on the protocol of results, which is the formal communication to the Supervisor of Elections from the presiding officer that these are the results from that polling station,” Mr Saneem said.

Mr Saneem said a pink paper carbon copy of the protocol result would be pasted on the wall of the that particular polling station and a green slip will be placed inside the ballot box that would be sent to Suva.

The green slip is to ensure that protocol results reach the national centre.

At the completion of counting, the presiding officer will then call the result centre to give the provisional result which is phoned in.

“It is not coming in a hard copy or any other transmission, it is just called in, we will record that here and that is what we will announce on election night as provisional results,” Mr Saneem said.

He said the protocol result and the record book of that polling station would be placed in tampered proof envelope and sent to Suva. There is only one tampered proof envelope in each kit and cannot be replaced.

“The materials are collected from the polling station, brought to the area office then on to the divisional office, from the divisional office the protocol envelope is placed in a different container, to be sent by aeroplane from the North and the West, or to be driven down to Suva under police security, for us to start entering the final result,” Mr Saneem said.

He said the final result was directly entered from the protocol result at the result centre and these results were not phoned in.

“We start the whole process again, it is not that we continue from the results we collected or we go and check the results and we correct it,” he said.

“No, we start from scratch and we enter the results, the counting has been finished, the results have been pasted on the polling stations.”

Mr Saneem urged people to record the protocol results in their polling stations and verify the results with the direct results, that would be announced as final results.

* The Fiji Times reported on Saturday, March 17, on Page 6 that there would be a final count. Mr Saneem has since clarified that this is incorrect. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused – The Editor