The Electoral Commission finds that the Fiji Sun Breaches the Opinion Poll Guidelines

The Electoral Commission adopted the public opinion poll guidelines for the 2022  General Election on 5 July 2022. This was published on the Commission’s website for all  interested agencies to refer to and comply with when pertaining to the opinion poll for  the 2022 General Election. However, the Commission noted that Fiji Sun published a  public opinion poll on 6 August 2022 which did not follow the approved ESOMAR &  WAPOR guidelines.  

The Commission findings are that: 

  1. a) Fiji Sun is the parent company which directs Western Force Research to carry out  general research survey works, opinion polls for the newspaper and therefore it  is bound by the adopted guideline. 
  2. b) That western force research is a home based small business that does not have a  business website nor any social media page. The guideline provides that the  researchers are required to promptly identify themselves and unambiguously  state the purpose of the research and enable respondents to check their identity  and bona fides without difficulty. 
  3. c) The Guideline also provides that the basic principle of fair and informative  reporting requires that it be made clear on how and where the enquirer can obtain  additional details. The survey company and the media should publish all required  full details of public opinion polls on their website within hours of publication. As  such Fiji Sun- Western Force Research publication does not comply with this  standard. 
  4. d) Researchers must ensure that adequate security measures are employed to  prevent unauthorized access, manipulation and disclosure to the personal data.  Western Force Research has failed to demonstrate that it has sufficient capacity to  deliver this requirement. 
  5. e) The Guideline provided that the name of the organization which conducted the  poll and its sponsor, the organization or person who paid for the poll must be  disclosed. The Western Force Research company does not exist according to the  company search conducted and the company is purportedly owned by the name  of Mere Serukalou rather as claimed in the response. 
  6. f) In its response, Western Force Research claimed that they take a sample size of  1000 respondents based on the demographics of Fiji. The guideline requires that  researchers observe the need for samples of appropriate size and quality and  technical consideration particularly affecting pre-election polls. Such polls must  have a sample large enough to draw conclusions about voters.  
  7. g) Western Force also stated that all research survey data is handed to Fiji Sun but  also noted that this is currently not published by Fiji Sun. The guideline  commensurate that researchers and those publishing survey data must make  available sufficient information to enable the public and other stakeholders to  evaluate the results. 
  8. h) The interviews were conducted by teams targeting bus stands, markets, housing  settlements, neighborhood, taxi stands etc. The required standard requires that  exit poll interviews conducted in a public place must take special care about  respondents’ confidentiality. However, there is lack of information on how this  confidentiality was maintained by the interviews while being out on field.  
  9. i) The interviews were mostly done face to face in markets, towns, and  neighborhoods ensuring that respondents are not politically biased, politically  active or affiliated with a certain political party. The standard required outlines  that the actual question wording is critical to interpreting the findings, and to  eliminate ambiguity and misunderstanding. There is lack of information on what  questions were asked to the respondent and how it was ascertained that these  respondents were impartial.  
  10. j) The guideline also highlights that for interviews conducted face to face, the  researchers must ensure that the interviewers must be professionally trained on  how to conduct such polls, that interviewers act properly and are adequately  supervised. Again Fiji Sun-Western Force research being a home-based business  must be sponsored for carrying out such training. However, there is no mention  of sponsor details and how they train their team for conducting such a poll.
  11. k) The June poll and the recent poll on 6th August published by Western Force  Research failed to state how many interviews were done face to face, how many  were done by telephone calls and interviews through social media by divisions,  age, gender and locations. Fiji has four divisions Central, North, Eastern and West  yet the research company has left out our Maritime zones formally known as the  Eastern division and within those divisions there are zones or areas such as the  Lami area, Nasinu/Nakasi area, Nausori area and the Navua area but none of this  were mentioned in any of the polls published as per the ESOMAR/WAPOR  guideline, sampling method is vital in publishing any public opinion poll.  

Therefore, the Electoral Commission urges all agencies conducting opinion poll on the  2022 General Election to abide by the guidelines adopted by the Commission. You can  find the guidelines on our website: https://www.electoralcommission.org.fj/guidelines on-opinion-polls-published-surveys/ 

Public Opinion Poll Guidelines for the 2022 General Election adopted by the Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission at its meeting held today, deliberated on opinion polls published for the 2022 General Election. The Electoral Commission has also been appraised of a recent complaint received regarding public opinion poll being published by a certain media house. 

“Currently, there are no specific guidelines on public opinion polls in an election in Fiji, but despite this, the Commission has noted that media organizations publish public opinion polls” explains Mr. Mukesh Nand, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission.

The Electoral Commission noted that both Australia and New Zealand have guiding documents on public opinion polls and these documents provide comprehensive instructions and expectations on public opinion poll processes. However, the combined guidelines published by European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR) and World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) is more appropriate for Fiji.

“Having considered the nature of the impact of opinion polls and the international standards around public opinion polls, particularly in relation to elections, we have decided that we will adopt for the purposes of evaluating opinion polls published in Fiji, the opinion poll guidelines published by ESOMAR/WAPOR”, said Mr Mukesh Nand, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission. 

The Electoral Commission will be publishing the opinion poll guidelines as well as the key requirements in relation to election opinion polling developed by ESOMAR/WAPOR on its website as well as the Fijian Election Office social media and website pages to enable all interested agencies to refer to and adequately comply with our expectation when it comes to opinion polling for the 2022 General Election.  

The Supervisor of Elections will also rely on these guidelines for his monitoring of the compliance with the Electoral Act.

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Please forward all media queries to the FEO Communications team at communications@feo.org.fj 

Communications to Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission, in preparation for the 2022 General Election, and noting thatthe first possible date the Writ can be issued is 26May 2022, has today informed Political Parties through a letter that all communications with the Electoral Commission in which they seek the Commission’s action, response, comments or for any other matter must be communicated via official correspondence on email or letter addressed directly to the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission and through the official email provided. Letters to the Commission can also be dropped off at its office at 59-63 High Street Toorak, Suva.

“The Commission has done this in order to ensure that all communications going into the 2022 General Election are consistently dealt with, recorded and available in case of future reference,” explained Mr. Nand, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission.

It is also important to note that the Commission does not wish to engage indirect communication with Political Parties and Candidates through the media, social media or any other platform that may be available to a person.

The Chairperson further says: “It is imperative that all Political Parties adhere to this to ensure that communications for the 2022 General Election are direct, formal and transparent.”

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Please forward all media queries to the FEO Communications team at communications@feo.org.fj

Electoral Commission [EC] and Fijian Elections Office [FEO] Sign MOU with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems [IFES]

Electoral Commission [EC] and Fijian Elections Office [FEO] Sign MOU with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems [IFES]

The Electoral Commission [‘EC’] and the Fijian Elections Office [‘FEO’] signed a Memorandum of Understanding [‘MOU’] with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems [‘IFES’], a US-based international organization specializing in elections.

The agreement was signed to enhance co-operation and collaboration to develop electoral practices in Fiji as well as for the FEO to benefit from various activities of IFES in the Pacific region and the world.

IFES and the FEO have had a cordial relationship in the past and the media was trained for the previous two (2) elections by IFES directly.
This year, IFES has conducted leadership training for the FEO senior management together with development of material for media training for the 2022 General Election.

In signing the MOU, the Chairperson of the EC, Mr Mukesh Nand acknowledged the contributions of IFES to building the credibility of Fijian elections and expressed that he looked forward to better relations with IFES in terms of key objectives of elections in Fiji.

 

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Please forward all media queries to the FEO Communications team at communications@feo.org.fj

Electoral Commission conducts One-day Electoral Planning Workshop

Electoral Commission conducts One-day Electoral Planning Workshop

The Electoral Commission [EC] conducted a one-day Electoral Planning Workshop to organize itself and review all the activities for the 50 Day Writ-to-Writ period.

In attendance were the Supervisor of Elections, the Chairperson of the EC and the six (6) members of the Commission.

“It is very important for us to assess at this stage the level of planning that is involved in terms of the 50-day period and particularly to understand the tasks that need to be delivered by the EC itself under the law,” Chairperson of the EC, Mr Mukesh Nand said.

The Electoral Commissioners also took some time to assess the barrel used for the Candidate Ball Draw following the presentation by the Fijian Elections Office [FEO] Team.

“It is very interesting the way that we run Elections in Fiji and I have reviewed the presentation from the FEO in regards to key processes building up during the Writ-to-Writ period,” he said.

“I am confident that FEO will effectively carry out all these processes so that Fiji will have a free, fair and credible election in 2022.”

The workshop will conclude later this evening.

 

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For noting by the media:

  1. Please forward all media queries to the FEO Communications team at communications@feo.org.fj
  2. Earlier Press Releases and Media Statements are available on the FEO website https://www.feo.org.fj/category/press-releases/
  3. You can also obtain the latest update on FEO activities on our Facebook Page ‘Fijian Elections Office’
Australia supporting the Electoral Commission on an independent audit of the National Register of Voters

Australia supporting the Electoral Commission on an independent audit of the National Register of Voters

Today, Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Mukesh Nand and Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes signed an agreement under which Australia will contribute FJD 258,000 to Fiji’s Electoral Commission to support the conduct of an independent audit of the National Register of Voters.  The independent audit was a recommendation of the Multinational Observer Group of the 2018 Fijian Election.

The audit, to be conducted by an independent organisation, will be scoped, commissioned, and overseen by the Electoral Commission, which is the custodian of Fiji’s National Register of Voters.  The audit will include an audit of procedures, an audit of IT systems and statistical testing to assess the quality of the voter register and voters list through the “list to voters” and/or the “people to list method”.   

Speaking at the signing ceremony, High Commissioner Feakes said “On the request of the Electoral Commission, Australia is pleased to provide a contribution to support its planned audit of the National Register of Voters. This will assist the Electoral Commission to implement a recommendation of the Multinational Observer Group of the 2018 Fijian Election.  Australia is providing funding directly to the Electoral Commission to conduct this work.  The Audit will be commissioned and managed by the Electoral Commission”. 

The Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Mukesh Nand added “The audit aims to support the Electoral Commission to make a determination on the manner in which the FEO is maintaining the Register, and where necessary provide relevant direction to the FEO to improve the manner in which the Register is kept.”

The Electoral Commission has conducted a call for expressions of interest from suitably experienced firms and expects to announce results of the procurement process shortly. 

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Use of Name on Certificate of Citizenship for Verification of Name

The Electoral Commission, having held a meeting on 17 March 2022, has approved that in cases where a voter who is a citizen of Fiji but born outside of Fiji and does not have a birth certificate from the country of birth but carries a valid Certificate of Citizenship can be registered by the Fijian Elections Office as a voter by using the name on the Certificate of Citizenship.

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Please forward all media queries to the FEO Communications team at communications@feo.org.fj

Commencement of Campaign Period

In accordance with Section 109A of the Electoral Act 2014, the Electoral Commission, following their meeting today has determined that the campaign period for the 2022 General Election shall commence on 26 April 2022 and end 48 hours prior to the date of the General Election as announced by the President.

The meeting took place this morning at the Fijian Elections Office headquarters in Toorak and in attendance were Commission Chairperson Mr Mukesh Nand and Commissioners; Mr Jawahar Lal, Ms Kavita Raniga, Ms Selina Lee Wah, Mrs Margot Jenkins, Mr Simione Naiduki and Ms Ateca Ledua.

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Please forward all media queries to the FEO Communications team at communications@feo.org.fj

Statement from the Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission received an appeal under section 30 of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Act 2013 on 24 February 2022 from HOPE (Humanity Opportunity Prosperity Equality). HOPE appealed the decision of the Registrar of Political Parties for deregistering the party.

The Electoral Commission invited HOPE leader Ms. Tupou Draunidalo and the Registrar of Political Parties on 25 February 2022 to present their submissions to the Electoral Commission.

After considering submissions from both the HOPE leader Ms. Tupou Draunidalo and the Registrar of Political Parties, the Electoral Commission made the decision to dismiss the appeal.

The decision can be accessed from the EC website: https://www.electoralcommission.org.fj/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Decision-of-the-appeal.pdf

 

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Statement from the Electoral Commission

Members of the Electoral Commission, Mr. Simione Naiduki, Mr. Jay Lal, Mrs. Kavita Raniga, Mrs Margot Jenkins and Ms. Selina Lee Wah wish to advise members of the public, particularly Fiji Times and Mahendra Chaudhary of FLP that the Electoral Commission continues to operate and discharge its roles and functions under the Fijian Constitution and Electoral laws.

We therefore correct claims by Mahendra Chaudhry when he said in today’s Fiji Times that due to the absence of a Chair, the EC is not operating at the moment.

Under section 5 of the Electoral Act, a quorum is formed by at least 4 members of the Commission and as such the roles and functions of EC continue to be discharged.

The EC expected Fiji Times to properly verify this information before publishing it. While the EC members work on part time basis, the FEO operates a full time secretariat headed by the SoE which could have facilitated clarifications if only Fiji Times would have checked.

The EC urges news organizations and political parties to exercise diligence when making such reports and statements.

Authorised by

Commissioners: Simione Naiduki, Jay Lal, Kavita Raniga, Margot Jenkins and Selina Lee Wah