Printing of Excessive Ballot Papers

Labour queries explanations by the Supervisor of Elections regarding the printing of ballot papers much in excess of requirement for a number of constituencies, including the Ba Open Constituency.

(Details attached) In a media statement, Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said excessive ballot papers were dangerous because they could lead to stuffing of ballot boxes.

“FLP is taking the matter very seriously. Excess ballot papers create a dangerous situation that allow for stuffing of ballot boxes. This could lead to a repeat of the kind of vote rigging that went on in the 2001 general elections for constituencies in the Central Division.

The matter has been handed over to the Police for investigation.

The Labour Party has written to the Supervisor of Elections and the chairman of the Electoral Commission seeking an explanation on why ballot papers in such excessive numbers were printed.

So far, we have not received a response from either of them.

Ba Open Constituency

My information is that a total of 29,890 ballot papers were originally printed on Wednesday night ( 3rd May) for the Ba Open Constituency.

This number 29,890 is hugely excessive considering there are only 20,759 registered voters in the Ba open Constituency. The number in excess is 9131.

Voter turn out is normally around 80-85% but could be less- so there was no need to print 9131 additional ballot papers unless there is something afoot to misuse these papers.

I was informed that an employee at the Government Printing has already filed a report on this with Crime Stoppers.

The matter is of grave concern to me and I want it investigated immediately. Why were more papers printed and where are those additional ballot papers now?

I suspect moves are afoot to rig the polls, similar to what happened in 2001.

Additional information

I have been further informed by sources at the Government Printing office that additional ballot papers for the various constituencies continue to be printed every night since polling commenced. According to information I have received so far, additional ballot papers were printed for a number of constituencies on the night of Saturday 6th May 2006.
(Details attached)

Again, I was informed just this morning that 10 lots of postal ballot papers were printed late last night and early this morning. These papers were uplifted by the Supervisor of Elections’ Office this morning, Tuesday 9th May 2006.

My sources at the Government Printing tell me that requests for the printing of additional ballot papers are made verbally and not in writing. Also, that there are no Police personnel present when ad-hoc printing is done at night.

Voters at Namau in Ba

Due to the incompetency of the Elections office 291 voters in Namau, Ba who should be voting in the Ba East Indian Communal constituency are being forced to travel all the way to polling stations in the Ba West Indian Communal constituency to vote.

When the error was first drawn to the attention of the Elections Office on 3rd April, they agreed that the voters had been wrongly placed and gave an assurance that they would be moved from Ba West to Ba East.

This did not happen. Now the Supervisor is telling me that it is too late – there is nothing they can do about the issue.

Hundreds of other voters have also been inconvenienced in this fashion because they have been listed in the wrong constituency.

Numbers for Open and Communal Constituencies
do not reconcile

At a number of polling stations, the total number of votes cast for Open and Communal constituencies do not reconcile.

This is due to the fact that in a number of cases voters were given only one ballot paper instead of two. The reason given for this was that their names could only be found in one of the two rolls in which they were registered.

Here again, this is due to the incompetence and inefficiency of the Elections Office.

The ad hoc printing of additional ballot papers makes all this even more suspicious.

 

Table I     The printing of excessive Ballot Papers

    Constituency

Ballot Papers Printed

No. of

Voters

  Excess

Vanua Levu West Indian Communal

25, 950

   7754

18,196

Ra Open

45,150

17, 925

27,225

Macuata Fijian Provincial  Communal

22,610

9832

12,778

Macuata East Cakaudrove IndianCommunal

17,400

7682

9718

Ba Open

29,890

20,759

9131

 

 Table II       Additional Ballot Papers printed on Saturday night 6th May 2006, after polling had commenced

No.             CONSTITUENCY  
8      Namosi Fijian Provincial Communal

 

1000

7     Naitasiri Fijian Provincial Communal

 

500

10    Rewa Fijian Provincial Communal

1000

14 Tailevu North Fijian Provincial   Communal

2000

25     North Eastern General Communal

1500

26     Western Central General Communal

4000

37   Viti Levu South Kadavu Indian     Communal

4000

41     Nasinu Indian Communal

5000

49     Nausori Naitasiri Open

5000

50     Nasinu Rewa Open

4000