The Fijian Elections Office [FEO] yesterday hosted its first ever Stakeholder Forum on Enhancing Voter Participation with registered political parties, academia, representatives of various Civil Society Organizations and attendees from the New Zealand and Australian Electoral Commissions among other stakeholders.
The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Mr Mukesh Nand said the ideas and recommendations that were shared at the Forum was a collective contribution of the stakeholders and each of these groups could review and organize itself to collectively drive voter participation for the 2022 General Election.
“Fiji has transitioned from a compulsory voting jurisdiction to one where voting is voluntary and this changes the dynamics significantly,” Mr Nand said.
“This is where voter participation is critical and all stakeholders such as political parties, members of the civil society, youths and academia play an important role in enhancing voter participation.”
Supervisor of Elections [SoE], Mr Mohammed Saneem said that it was imperative that the conversation on enhancing voter participation included the views and opinions of all stakeholders through which the FEO was able to achieve through this Forum.
“This was the first time that we had six (6) of the (7) registered political parties in Fiji on a panel together having a discussion on elections so I think that the Forum truly achieved its objective of getting the stakeholders talking on how voter participation can be further improved,” Mr Saneem said.
“The FEO has noted the views and recommendations from the stakeholders and we will be working with the relevant stakeholders in implementing some of the outcomes that were derived through mutual discussions.”
Mr Saneem also presented the results of the Pre-Election Voter Survey to the attendees.
“While voter participation in an election is dependent on many factors, the Survey provides statistical data on voter perceptions, behavior and voter confidence in the electoral system and the analyses presented will be useful for all stakeholders including political parties in organizing themselves for the election,” Mr Saneem said.
The Forum also featured panel discussions based on thematic areas such as Regional Initiatives in Enhancing Voter Participation and various techniques on Increasing Voter Awareness in Fiji. The final panel discussion featured representatives of Political Parties on their Approach to Engaging Voters.
The Stakeholder Forum was held at the Grand Pacific Hotel from 8am to 6pm on 30 March 2022.