Low youth turnout at Fiji’s 2018 General Election

Fiji’s 2018 General Election recorded a low youth turnout, according to an analysis of 99% voter lists used in the country’s election that year.

In a 50-page report detailing their findings, FEO noted that youths in the 18-30 age group recorded a low turnout compared to voters aged 31 years and above. If it were to be aligned with the widely accepted definition of youths aged between 18 and 35 years, the turnout rate remains low.

The analysis, the first of its kind in the country’s electoral history, was generated from 2,130 voter lists out of 2,154 used in the 2018 elections comprising 611,650 out of 637,527 individuals registered.

Out of 176,967 voters aged between 18 and 30 years registered, 61% voted whereas of the 335,870 individuals aged 31 and above registered, 77% voted.

In terms of turnout by division, the lowest turnout was recorded in the Eastern Division at 68.45% of the registered voters while the Western Division recorded the most turnout 73.75%. Of all the divisions, Central Division which had the highest number of registered voters recorded a 71.23% turnout. The FEO attributed the low turnout to the impact of the weather on Election Day as well as voters’ having not updated their addresses to ensure they are assigned to polling stations near their places of residence and/or work.

“On the day election took place, the Central Division and much of the other parts of the country experienced very heavy rainfall including flooding,” the report said.

“A good number of voters ended up not updating their addresses and found it impractical to go to their polling stations.”

By way of voting methods, pre-poll turnout was ‘quite low’. Of the 69,028 people registered, only 45,510 turned up. The FEO said the turnout rate of 65.93% was concerning given that in pre-poll, the election is taken to the people.

“The one issue faced with pre-poll was that after the announcement of the election date, there was little time to convey the dates for pre-poll voting to the population.”

The report also outlined the turnout for overseas voters at 13%. Of the 7,970 registered overseas voters, only 1,019 attended.

Analysis of the voter list involved the digitisation of the lists, and thorough checks to ensure the accuracy of the data used. The scanning exercise, the FEO said was completed in December 2019 with the final quality checks done in January last year.

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