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Parties want ballot paper change

Tevita Vuibau
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

THE Fiji Labour Party says the current ballot paper design withholds information that will assist voters in easily identifying the candidate of their choice.

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry made the comment in response to a Tebbutt-Times Poll on the ballot papers that showed majority of people prefer having photos of the candidates alongside their candidate number on the ballot paper.

"FLP's position is that the ballot paper should include the names of the candidates with their photographs and their party acronyms and symbols," he said.

"It is wrong to withhold vital information which would assist the voters to cast their votes with confidence.

"It is pertinent that Fiji's electoral laws were imposed on the people by a decree and not promulgated through the parliamentary process."

Social Democratic Liberal Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka said having photos of each candidate beside their number was the most practical and logical approach to ensure voters made better informed choices.

Mr Rabuka said the current practice could be confusing in the pressured voting environment and voters could easily forget who was represented by a particular number.

"This is worsened by the requirement in the law that voters may not take into the voting booth 'how to vote' materials," he said.

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said voters recognised their parties by symbols and a ballot paper with numbers denied people their right to make informed choices and erodes the principle of free and fair election.

People's Democratic Party leader Lynda Tabuya said a change in the electoral laws was needed to adhere to the recommendations of the Electoral Commission in 2014

She said based on the principles of fairness and equality, placing the photo and name of the candidate would ensure that voters get to choose their candidate without any doubt or fear.

Fiji United Freedom Party leader, Jagath Karunaratne said political party symbols represented the values of the party and this was why political parties had advocated and insisted on having those on the ballot paper even before the 2014 election.

Elections Supervisor Mohammed Saneem had said each voter in the 2014 General Election was given a voter instruction guide before receiving the ballot paper.

He said this guide contained the photo, full name and candidate number

Mr Saneem said the voter was allowed to use the voter instruction guide to find the candidate of their choice and mark the candidates' number on the ballot paper.

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