The Fijian Elections Office is predicting low local voter turnout in postal ballots having received applications from only 3% of stakeholders projected to apply for postal voting, less than three days before closing.
Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem said they were expecting around 23,000 voters, whose nature of work means they may not be able to vote on election day 14 December, to apply for postal ballot.
Applications for postal vote close at 5pm this Wednesday 23 November. As of 5pm Sunday 20 November, the FEO had received only 730 applications which Mr Saneem describes as “not very encouraging”, hopeful that it is not an indication of the participation rate in the 2022 General Election.
“If there are people concerned abpout the turnout, I am already flagging to you that there is a potential for lower turnout in the postal because people have not applied,” he said.
- Stakeholders that have applied:
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The projected numbers were based off the FEO’s stakeholder consultations and awareness with the stakeholders through the year.
“We went around to indivudally to every business house, hotels and facility that was going to be operational during public holiday on election day and conducted awareness sessions with them. We have so far only received 730 applications,” Mr Saneem said.
Sharing some of the stats on hand, of the projected number of hotel workers expected to register for postal ballot, less than 1 per cent have put in their applications. Of the total media workers accredited to cover this year’s election, 16 per cent had applied.
“The number of applications locally that we have received is actually a bit of a worry. We are still waiting on around 20,000 people who we know are in the sector who need to apply for postal vote because they will be working on election day. If you know of people working in this sector who will be working, inform your members, family and friends to apply for postal ballot. We had encouraged all businesses, to apply for postal ballots in batches so that we can dispatch it in bacthes, and nobody misses out.”
Mr Saneem said the deadline for applications are fixed in the law, thus cannot be changed. The FEO is also mindful of the need to finalise the voter list for the election which rests on the determination of postal vote applications.
The final voter list is expected to be confirmed by the end of the month.
Meanwhile, as of 5pm yesterday, the FEO had received 4303 applications, of which 4,246 were approved. Ninety-one packages had been sent out, and two voted.