Printing of ballot papers for Fiji’s 2022 General Election began this afternoon at the Star Printery complex with assurances from the Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem about security measures around the production, storage, and transportation of ballot papers through election day.
Located less than 10 minutes drive from the country’s capital city Suva’s CBD, and about two minutes away from the venue where the counting of votes will likely take place, the premises will be guarded 24/7 by police officers and Fijian Elections Office staff through to 14 December.
“At the conclusion of the national candidates’ list ball draw that took place this morning, we have begun with the printing of ballot papers and we’re starting with ballot papers for postal voting,” Mr. Saneem said.
“The ballot papers are designed in a manner which is easily understandable for voting. I will now explain some of the features of the ballot papers that will be used in the general election. Our design is based on the schedule in the Electoral Act and while designing the ballot paper we have taken into account the following elements.
“Number one is the clarity in the layout, the use of clear typefaces, the presence of clear instructions on the ballot paper, a large enough font size and the space of the box in which the voter will mark the ballot paper and the space in between the boxes for each number.”
The ballot paper itself Mr. Saneem said has built-in security features as provided under section 38(1) of the Electoral Act.
“I can assure you it is going to be difficult for anyone who wishes to duplicate it or even photocopy it.
“In these elections, we do not require our staff to authenticate a ballot paper with a signature and a stamp because right from production, the ballot paper has security features built in it.”
In the first run of printing, the FEO intends to print 20,000 ballot papers ready for postal votes, followed by ballot papers for prepoll and then polling day.
“We will continue to print as per the instruction and the numbers that we have given you in our statements.
“These books will undergo quality assurance before being packed into cartons and then transported to the FEO warehouse. Postal Ballot papers will be directly transferred from here to the postal vote management center for packing. For security and safety, all transportation of ballot materials will be under strict custody and guard of the police together with FEO staff present in all these vehicles.
“We have a secure storage facility inside our warehouse, and we will be keeping all the ballot papers inside the secure facility under CCTV surveillance, political party presence, and police force presence.
“Ballot papers will only be removed from the warehouse when we have to start packing it into the ballot paper transport to take.”
The FEO projects to print more than 800,000 ballot papers for the 2022 General Election, of which around 670,000 will be set aside for election day on 14 December, and around 106,000 for pre-poll voters, whilst 30,000 will be for postal voting. The expected number of voters for postal voting will be confirmed once applications close.
Postal voter applications close at 5 pm on Wednesday 23 November. In the 2018 election, 11,227 postal votes were dispatched, out of the 764,850 that were printed for the polls that year.