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1-day poll 'best option'

Shalveen Chand
Saturday, January 25, 2014

THE elections to be held later in the year will for the first time have Fijians voting outside racial boundaries.

And another first for Fiji is that all voting will be done on a single day.

Attorney-General and elections minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said a single-day poll for Fiji's 2014 General Election will promote integrity and transparency in the process, encourage voter turnout and keep costs down.

"The Elections Office is working in close partnership with a number of international elections experts, all of whom agree that a single-day poll is not only possible, but is also the best option for Fiji," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

"Unfortunately, some politicians are trying to turn this into a political issue by making unfounded statements in order to call into question the legitimacy of the preparations for elections.

"A single-day poll greatly decreases the chances for fraudulent behaviour, in particular tampering with ballot boxes.

"In the past, keeping ballot boxes secure and maintaining proper chain-of-custody records during their transport were big problems that in many cases weakened voters' confidence in the veracity of the election results."

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said ballot boxes would not be transported long distances or stored for extended periods.

He added after voting closes, all votes will be counted and the results announced at the polling centre in full view of the public, election observers, and party scrutinisers.

He said this increased voter turnout as well.

"Contrary to the claims of a number of politicians, the single-day poll is actually less expensive and logistically challenging than a multiple-day poll. The single-day poll will require around 2000 polling stations," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

"Yes, this means that more staff will have to be hired than in the past, but they will be required to work fewer days.

"All other overhead costs — such as fuel, housing, transportation, electricity — will be less as well.

"This goes for the costs of political parties too.

"It is also worth noting that the Elections Office will have to cater for more registered voters than at any other time in our nation's history, and this is reflected in the estimated costs."

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