Speech by Ms Kavita Raniga
Matua Room at the Grand Pacific Hotel
Session Topic: Regional EMB Initiatives in Enhancing Voter Participation
Bula Vinaka Ladies and Gentlemen
My name is Kavita Raniga and I am one of the six (6) members of the Electoral Commission.
Today, I am honoured that I have been given an opportunity to deliver my speech. As the topic is on regional Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs), I will speak on how we, the Electoral Commission (EC) enhances voter participation here in Fiji.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I will be talking about how the Fiji’s EMB and the strategies put in place to engage voter participation. In order to vote, the precondition is that the vote must be cast by a valid registered voter. Thus, the first step is to register voters. And in Fiji, we do a lot of activities to facilitate this service to the potential voters.
One major activity is the Nationwide Voter Registration Drive and Know Your Election Campaign conducted by us currently. Together with the FEO teams, the EC have been continuously on the ground visiting communities, villagers, towns and cities and providing voter services directly to people. We thank to the people whom have been taken advantage of these services, and we encourage those yet to come to us.
Ladies and Gentlemen, since the launch of the drive on February 25 2022, we have received high demand from the public for FEO teams to visit their workplaces, events, Annual General Meetings’ [AGM’s], functions, settlements, villages and communities to conduct voter registrations.
Furthermore, we have received significant number of requests for mobile registrations for those that are unable to visit our Voter Services Centre’s[VSC’s] or registration teams in the field.
Since our awareness and registration drive started, we have reached places such as in Yasawa, Rotuma, Lau Group, Taveuni, Lomaiviti Group, Ovalau, Moturiki, Wakaya and Gau Island to name a few.
And we are so glad to receive appreciate messages from the public. As an EMB, I guess this is one of the moments that we are looking forward to.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we will continues to advertise widely where, how and when citizens could apply to register or change their existing details and allowing voters to change their Polling Venues. We will provide the said services till the issuance of the Writ.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we as EMB have tried to reach out to the people in Fiji as much as we can in ways of advertising via national television, radio broadcasting, newspapers, pamphlets, social media, websites and Business House Registration where businesses/organisations can do online booking with us so that a team can send to your office to register/update the employees VoterCards. This initiative was welcomed by the business sector, and we thank them for their cooperation and enthusiastic.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are also very creative in terms of attracting new voters to register and existing voters to update their information and cards. We provide quizzes to increase voter education and participation specially to encourage youth to vote. We also have the $30,000 Bonanza for voters either to register or to upgrade voter cards/update voter details.
In terms of voter participation, we have conducted surveys to find out the main causes why people participated in the election as well as the reasons as to why they did not vote. The result of the surveys has allowed us to devise our strategy to maximise that we continue to strive for excellence. On the other hand, the areas where we are lacking in, we try to find constructive solutions to it for the next general election.
Ladies and Gentlemen, there are many ways we can come up with on how to enhance voter participation. The above is some of ours in Fiji. I am eager to find our more interesting ideas and schemes that other regional EMBs are using to develop the national interest in elections.