STATEMENT No 23: BEDDOES SAID TODAY THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION IS BREACH OF ITS CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATE TO PROVIDE FREE & FAIR ELECTIONS
DATE ISSUED: August 31 2014
SODELPA CANDIDATE Mick Beddoes said today the Electoral Commission is in breach of its constitutional mandate as stated in Sec 75 (2) which is to conduct free and fair elections and the notion of One Person – One Vote –One Value has also been compromised.
Beddoes said that in TV advertisements being promoted by the Elections office, postal ballot voters are being provided a copy of the ‘Voter Instruction Booklet’ which has all of the candidates photos and numbers and therefore a postal ballot voter will have that in their possession at the time they cast their vote.
All other registered voters are being denied the same assistance or opportunity? WHY? Beddoes asked.
Beddoes said this act alone neutralizes the concept of One Person- One Vote –One Value and as a consequence the elections itself cannot be conducted in a ‘free & fair’ manner as is required of the Electoral Commission under Sec 75 (2) of the 2013 constitution.
Beddoes said that by allowing postal ballot voters the right to use the Voter Instruction Booklet, while at the same denying others the same opportunity, Commission is not treating all voters equally, rendering these elections unfair.
Beddoes said that on the Fiji One News Bulletin [29-08-14] it was reported that Election officials told Methodist Church Ministers that they would be given 2 ballot papers. One in case they make a mistake or change their mind?
Beddoes said the Electoral Commission needs to explain itself to the voters. How can we now be entertaining people who change their minds after they cast their votes? Surely once you cast your vote, that’s it? Valid or invalid that’s it.
By announcing voters will be given 2 ballot papers the commission is introducing the prospect of some people slipping in 2 votes if officials are not vigilant. Postal Ballot voters are given just one ballot paper, which means this is another unfair treatment of voters.
The solution to minimizing errors and invalid votes is to be ‘consistent and fair to all voters, postal, pre-polling or election day polling voters alike.
ALL VOTERS must be treated in exactly the same way and all voters must be allowed to have the ‘Voter Instruction Booklet’ with them as they cast their votes. It will minimize invalid votes, it will reduce anxiety, and all voters can then make an informed and free vote.
Beddoes has called on the Commission to exercise good common sense and for once make a decision that favors and assists voters by allowing every voter the right to a the ‘Voter Instruction Booklet’ handed to them with their ballot papers and which is returned for the next vote when they leave. Beddoes said it is a simple solution that will be transparent, helpful, just and the right thing to do to ensure free & fair elections.
Authorized By: Mick Beddoes