2018 General Election: Saneem clears the air on counting process issue

Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem. Picture: FILE

A LOT had been said these past few days about how the counting process for the 2018 General Election was being done.

In a press conference, after the closure of polling on Wednesday, Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem confirmed that pre-poll and postal ballot papers were physically counted at the counting centre at Laucala Bay, Suva, while presiding officers and their teams at the various polling stations around the country organised counting of ballot papers from their respective polling venues.

He said in the 2006 election, ballot boxes for each polling venue was counted at a central location.

This counting, he said would take place after voting concluded and ballot boxes were moved from those locations to the counting centres.

Mr Saneem said some of the counting in the 2006 polls, would take at least up to five days.

However, to rectify such misunderstanding and miscommunications around the results of the election, in the 2014 electoral framework, he said, the idea of the national results tally was embedded in the law.

“Under the Electoral Act, the Supervisor of Elections is required to publish the totals for the parties and totals of the candidates on an electronically available or a print media so that it is available for distribution which shows the progressive results as counting completes at every polling station on election night,” he said.

What this meant was that as a presiding officer at a polling station finished counting ballot papers at their respective polling stations, the presiding officer would then call the FEO results centre to inform them about who he was, details of his polling venue and the counting results. According to Mr Saneem, the results centre will then enter those results into the results management system and thereafter, those results would be published under the banner called “provisional results”.

“The provisional results are announced as long as we keep getting calls from presiding officers,” he said.

All votes, he said had already been counted at all polling centres where votes were cast on Wednesday and the provisional results they had been announcing were actual results from polling places.

“The FEO will do data entry of the results from the polling places by directly transferring the results from each polling place into the result management system from the Protocol of Results that has been sent from each polling place.”

He clarified that the presiding officers and witnesses had signed on to the Protocol of Results that were completed after the count was completed at their respective polling venues.

This Protocol of Results which is a booklet containing the breakdown of results from all polling venues is then brought to the FEO result centre physically, he said.

Mr Saneem said their data entry process would not stop until they had entered all the results into the system.

“Under the law, the results that will be compiled will be called the Final National Results Tally which will be used for seat allocation by the Electoral Commission,” he said. “So, it is the same result. One was given as provisional and then we will enter that result fresh into the election result management system and we will be publishing those results as the final national results.

“We are not going to verify provisional results. We are going to put it aside. We are going to enter the result on the election result platform fresh from scratch. Anyone who wants to check it, the FEO will not participate in such exercise.”

Mr Saneem had also clarified that there was no second count or third count.

“The count has already finished. These are the Protocol of Results that are being brought down here. Data will be entered directly from that Protocol of Results,” he said.

“Political parties can have their agents present while we are conducting the data entry for the final national results tally.

“They are fully able to record the data that we are entering. Our process is once we receive a Protocol of Results, we are going to photocopy it for each party, place it in a tab for the party and then we will push that Protocol of Result for data entry,” he added.

The FEO has also confirmed that counting for postal and pre-poll ballot papers have been completed.

They had issued approvals for 11,227 postal vote applications. A total 9180 postal ballots were approved and verified for counting.

For pre-polling, the FEO recorded a 63 per cent voter turnout.

They had expected 70,911 people to cast their vote during pre-poll, but only 44,708 voters voted.

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