Narsey Attacks Electoral Decree

This summary of Dr Wadan Narsey's article published on 12 April in the Fiji Times [with my comments in brackets]:

1. The proposed ballot paper: It is hard to remember a candidate's three digit number.
"Hundreds of thousands of voters ... may have great difficulty in remembering the numbers of their preferred candidates. [Exaggeration and doubtful, but remediable]
2. Unclear what information will be in the polling station. "If they cannot remember, they will have to find their preferred candidate based on the information inside the polling booth, with all the names and photos of candidates, supposedly in less than two minutes." [If Wadan is unclear, he should ask before criticising]
3. Reminders not allowed. Voters will not be able to take paper, or a specimen or sample of the ballot paper into the polling station. [Good reason for this, but they should be able to make a note inside the station]
4. Voters suspected of breaching this regulation may be searched "like a common criminal" and the fine imposed is excessive. [Hyperbole. People are searched at airports because of what they may be carrying and this ia hardly being treated like a common criminal.]
5. Not allowing voter education involvement by foreign-funded NGOs is wrong. [Not all NGOs. Only the CCF and with some cause if their constitution booklet is anything to go by]
6. The PM is campaigning while in office.[Yes. I have problems with this, too, but I don't see how you can go around the country collecting signatures  to register the Fiji First party without saying what it is all about.  Did the other parties say nothing about their parties and policies when they were collecting signatures?]
7. People registering their support of independent candidates must give their full names, residential addresses, occupation. This creates the potential that "supporters" will be publicly identified.This totally negates the principle of the "secrecy of the ballot box" and gives other political parties information to target known supporters of the Independents. This is surely totally unfair to Independents. [Producing a registered voter card also has this potential. But, as previously stated, I don't see any independents standing.  To get beyond the 5% threshold, they will need 28,000 votes. It is a non issue.]

CHANGES TO BALLOT PAPER.The Elections Office is considering a proposal from the four registered political parties that party symbols be added to the national candidate list. Dr Wadan Narsey in a letter to the Fiji Sun suggests a ballot paper with a different page allocated to each party. "Should a voter make any mistake in ticking a wrong number, for example ticking an adjacent number, then that vote will still go to the party of his/her choice and no great harm will be done." he wrote.


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