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The case for using electronic technology in Fiji’s general elections

Volume 13, Issue 2

September, 2007

From page
61
to page
75
Nicholl, R. (2007). The case for using electronic technology in Fiji's general elections. Pacific Journalism Review, 13(2): 61-75.
Author(s): Rae Nicholl
Publication date: 
September, 2007

On 5 December 2006, the Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, announced he had assumed executive power: he dismissed the elected government and declared a State of Emergency. One month later, on 4 January 2007, Bainimarama was appointed interim prime minister by the President of the Fiji Islands and set out the broad objectives of his interim government, which included a commitment to electoral reform. On 20 February 2007, the interim Cabinet approved a ‘road map’, which committed Fiji to a general election and full restoration of parliamentary democracy by 2010. The announcement included the provision for a population census to be carried out by the Bureau of Statistics in 2007 and the consequent determination by the Boundaries Commission of new geographical constituencies. In addition, the Elections Office will be expected to examine a new system of ‘polling, voting, vote counting and declaration of results’. This article argues that, as planning for the road map progresses, the Fiji Elections Office should give serious consideration to the expanded use of the ‘new’ technologies -the internet, the worldwide web and mobile telephones - when considering changes to the voting system. Attempts were made, primarily by the Elections Office and some political parties, to use the new technologies to inform citizens about their voting options during the 2006 election campaign but the available technology was not used to its fullest. Electronic technology is widely available throughout Fiji and creative ways need to be developed by all political actors to reach citizens, especially young people.