Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission 

Launch of the Presiding Officers Training 

Tanoa Waterfront Hotel  



19 April 2022 

The Supervisor of Elections, 

FEO Directors, 

Presiding and Assistant Officers trainees and, 

Invited Guests. 

Ladies and Gentlemen. 

Bula Vinaka and a warm welcome to the Presiding Officers Training Launch for the 2022  General Election. 

Congratulations on your shortlisting to be the Polling station managers on Election Day or  during Pre-poll. On the date of polling, you all will be the senior most Election Officials on the 

ground and in-charge of the polling place. This is a huge responsibility and we all believe that  each of you have proven on merit that you are capable of the task. 

This training is for both potential Presiding and Assistant Presiding Officers. These trainings  will be a full day training which will start from 19 April 2022 and end on 26 May 2022 and  we expect to train 7,145 participants during this Phase.  

Ladies and Gentlemen, these trainings are an essential component for preparing you to  manage polling. It will prepare you for all the tasks that you have to undertake and also to  administer. Do not underestimate the importance of any task. All of them are important. I  repeat – all of them are important. 

You will all play a vital role come Election Day. You will not only represent yourself during  the national exercise but also act as ambassadors for the Fijian Elections Office[FEO]. 

The Presiding Officers Manual will be your guide and it will have all the answers you may  have. Also, each one of you will undertake specific tasks at your respective Polling Venues  and Polling Stations on Election Day. 

The team at FEO has transferred all the necessary legal requirements into the manuals for you. Use those manuals. Follow all instructions in the manual. There will be polling agents  and observers that will be trained to check that you follow all the procedures come Election  Day. 

So it is of high importance that every one of you pay attention during the trainings. You can  ask questions if you are not sure or confused with the respective trainers and most  importantly practice what you are going to learn during the training. 

You have been selected for a reason and that is to be a focal point of communication between  the FEO and the voters that will turn up to cast their votes at Polling Venues around the  country on Election Day.  

We at the Electoral Commission [EC] together with team from the FEO expect the best from  you. We need you to be fair, honest, impartial, hardworking and demonstrate confidently in  your line of work and we have full confidence that you will be able to demonstrate these. 

We encourage you not to be easily influenced by outside sources such as social media, fake  news, misinformation and disinformation which you will often come across now until the  election. 

On the topic of fake news and misinformation, in the recently launched Pre-Election Voter  Survey by the FEO, of the 9,292 responses, 62 % had noticed fake news on social media  websites while 38% did not.  

As expected, majority of persons have suggested that they had come across fake news,  misinformation on Facebook with Facebook being the most widely used social network in  Fiji. It is imperative that every employee of the FEO demonstrate a greater level of  responsible online behavior. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, you may ask why the EC and the FEO provide adequate trainings and  emphasize the importance of such trainings. One may just have to look at the Multinational  Observer Group Report on the 2006 General Election, where it had been noted that polling  place rules were applied inconsistently. In some places, the polling places were setup under  trees without any exact guidelines. In some polling places, polling staff allowed people to  enter the venue carrying their bags while polling officers in other polling venues required  voters to leave their bags outside before they entered.

We must ensure that we follow the procedures laid out by the FEO. These have been  prepared with the experience of two (2) elections and the review by various electoral experts  that support the FEO. You will also find that these procedures are also consistent with many  other countries in the world conduct elections. Be confident and execute these processes.  

Before I conclude, let me remind you that this is a very important year for the nation. We are  preparing for the Election. I and my fellow Commissioners would like to encourage that you  all need to play your part, work together as a team and apply the trainings and learnings you  will receive in your respective work.  

I wish you all the very best in the training and look forward to working with you as we deliver  the 2022 General Election. 

Vinaka Vakalevu