Lack of Racial Parity in Voter Registration Clerk Appointments

FijiToday is to be congratulated for questioning why only 160 of the 1,059 newly appointed clerks are Indo-Fijian or Other races. With so few ITaukei speaking Hindi, registration will inevitably face the same problems as in the 2001 and 2006 elections when ITaukei officials also dominated registration.



Which leads me to congratulate FijiToday for also exposing inadequacies in these earlier elections, about which the anti-blogs have been uniformly silent.

Apparently in both the 2001 and 2006 elections, "hundreds of Indo-Fijian voters were turned away from polling stations because their names did not appear on the electoral rolls even though they had registered and held the official registration slips. These voters were effectively disenfranchised through no fault of their own." Vinaka, FijiToday.

And the European Union Election Observation Mission in 2006 drew attention to virtual disenfranchisement in one-fifth of the polling booths, due to "numerous instances of misspelling of voters’ names, wrong constituency allocations and the failure to register a greater number of voters."

Likewise, the 2007 Commission of Inquiry into the 2006 general elections was highly critical of the racial disparity in the entire elections administration process with a dominance of ethnic Fijians at all levels. It implied “at the least, an unintentional bias”, noting that of the 4,248 enumerators enlisted, only 407 were Indo-Fijians and 155 from other minority communities.

Prior to 2001, school teachers and other civil servants were the main enumerators, but since then, according to FijiToday,  "enumerators have been picked on an ad hoc basis, many of them barely out of school."

FijiToday draws attention to the fact that the entire registration process (in 2012) contravenes the Electoral Act and Regulations and is, therefore, open to legal challenge. But they make no such claim for the 2001 and 2006 elections.

They are right, however,  in asking the Attorney-General to insist on better racial parity. Fiji cannot undo the lack of parity in 2001 and 2006 (under the "democratically elected governments") but  the unelected military-backed government can correct what  remains wrong.

Comments

Cicero said…
There cannot be a repetition of the botched exercise conducted for Voter Registration in 2005 and, worse, conducted in the main in our own homes, villages and settlements.

The very obvious flaws and inappropriate behaviour of the ennumerators then were referred to in numerous submissions to the 2007 Three Person Committee of Enquiry. It simply will not do that people are sent out inadequately trained (especially linguistically) and briefed to do such a vital task.

May we ask what has determined this imbalance? We shall scrutinize the list today which we are keeping for future reference. It appears to have been improper haste? Why, specifically? To offer young people employment when so little is on offer? But this is precisely what took place in 2005. Is history repeating itself?
Anonymous said…
You can take racism out of the laws in a day, but it will take generations to remove it from the hearts of people.
Anonymous said…
I am surprised they didn't get the Croz slap down for being negative against this regime that doesn't actually live up to the very high standards it expects of others, but accepts no scrutiny for itself.
Joe Blog said…
I wonder if the imbalace may be related to the registration locations and the preffered language of communications at these locations. I would think that registrations in villages which are numerous and tend to be overwhelmingly iTaukei, might require much more iTaukei registrars for ease of communications. Indians tend to live in urban and sub-urban areas of which there aren't that many, so a much smaller number of Indian registrars may be neede. If there are mechanisms already in place to catch intended or unintended errors then the issue of the lopsided numbers becomes moot. Although I agree that perception is important. Just a thought.

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