I wonder how many overseas Fiji people who registered to vote in the election now find that it's too late because their postal vote papers didn't arrive early enough. What a waste of money and effort it was when the eligible Fiji persons had registered a couple of months ago to now find they are too late. And of course the Fijians living in Tonga - about 250 of them were forgotten altogether.
Some Overseas Fijians Receive Voter Registration Form Too LateComplaints they will be left out of elections arise
By Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Sept. 5, 2014) – A number of registered voters overseas are seeking answers from the Fijian Elections Office as to why they were sent their postal voter application forms late.A number of affected Fijians that spoke to FijiLive said some received their application forms on the due date of August 27 whilst some others received theirs after, ruling them out as a result to vote in this year's election.
A voter from the United States says the move by the FEO was "scandalous" and questions the logic of having overseas registration drives only to rule interested Fijians out by the delay.
According to a statement dated August 26, the Fijian Election office said the forms were sent out a week earlier. A couple in the United States said their papers were sent to them on August 19 and they received it after the deadline date.
Vasiti Ritova, a Fijian journalist now living in the United States said it was an "obvious scandal to take away our basic citizenry right to vote for our preferred candidates." "It borders on criminality and ought to be taken up with the international observers on the ground.
Did they just waste hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax dollars in sending election office workers overseas to register Fijian citizens and not do a quick follow-up when they get back to the office? "The system they have put together for this historic event in our nation has totally failed us.
It has punished us - imagine the father in rural Ra who had to pay $50 to hire a carrier van for his fellow voters to rush to the polling station because they changed the polling date! Their system has totally failed us!" Ritova said.
Another Fijian caregiver Akesa Tirimaidoka said most Fijians who were registered were unaware they needed to apply again for postal voting despite being registered in one of the overseas EVR drives.
"Most of us were unaware that we needed to re-apply either in writing or by the internet, what needed to be understood was that most of us caregivers do not have access to the internet when we’re at work since we’re on duty 24/7. It was one thing trying to go and register, for me personally, I went four times then I managed to get registered because of the distance that we needed to travel to finally register and the wrong information that was coming to us on where the EVR team would be based, now after all those running around, we don’t get to vote," Tirimaidoka said.
For those that got their application sent back to Fiji before the due date, they said they have been keeping a constant check on their mail boxes waiting for their ballot papers to arrive and keeping their fingers crossed that it arrives on time.
Meanwhile Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem told FijiLive yesterday that the decree required everyone that needed to do postal voting to apply.
"Also the benefit of that is that they get their exact current address because some of them have registered in 2013 they might have changed their address and that is why the decree requires that," Saneem said.
"In any event, if it is automatic and where a person overseas may have died and we still send a ballot paper and someone else could have marked it and send it back so the protection is the declaration which is there and also required by the decree." He said to his understanding postal application papers were sent overseas on August 10 and unless overseas voters checked their mail boxes late, they would not have missed out.
Saneem also confirmed voters who did not submit their postal voting applications on time would not be eligible to vote.