A five-day BRIDGE Voter Registration workshop, jointly hosted and organised by the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand Electoral Administrators (PIANZEA) network and the Fijian Elections Office (FEO), was conducted 11-15 May 2015, at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva, Fiji. The workshops were made possible by the generous support of the Australian Aid Program.
A welcome speech was delivered by the Deputy Head of Mission, Australian High Commission in Fiji, Ms. Karinda D’Aloisio. The workshop was officially opened by the Fijian Minister Responsible for Elections, His Excellency Mr. Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, who stated that whilst the population in many island countries is small, the logistics of registering people is quite difficult. Transportation and accessibility to voters is a challenge due to the number of islands to be covered during voter registration.
Mr Khaiyum was followed by a speech from the PIANZEA Secretariat and Acting Director of International Services Section, Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), Mr. Jiv Sekhon.
Closing remarks and a vote of thanks were delivered by the Fijian Supervisor of Elections, Mr. Mohammed Saneem.
The workshop was attended by 22 PIANZEA delegates, representing PNG (2), Niue (2), Palau (1), Samoa (2), Tonga (2), Nauru (2), Tuvalu (2), the Cook Islands (2), Vanuatu (2), Solomon Islands (1), FSM (1), Kiribati (2) and RMI (1). Four FEO delegates also attend the workshop.
The principal aims of the workshop were to provide general information on voter registration, to exchange ideas and to share experiences on how each country conducted their type of voter registration.
Facilitators for this workshop were Asenaca Kolinivala (FEO), Vake Blake (Tonga), Michelle Aisake (Cook Islands) , Gary Tavoa (Vanuatu) and Brian Latham (AEC). Expert commentary and administration support was provided by Jiv Sekhon.
The workshop content covered a wide range of voter registration topics, including principles of voter registration; voter identity and ID cards; types of voter registers; factors influencing the choice of voter register systems adopted; legal framework and procedures for voter registration; training; information management; uses of technology; compilation of registration data; management and security of data; maintaining the register; producing the provisional and final voters list; funding, budgeting and the role of donors for voter registration; procurement; and the importance of stakeholders.
As all EMBs represented at the workshop necessarily deal with voter registration of some kind, there was a lot of discussion about the different types of systems and the various ways of operating them effectively. Many voter registration experiences were shared, with some lively (mostly structured) debates as to the merits of the different situations experienced or proposed.
Participant feedback and participation throughout the five days of the workshop were both positive.
The issuing of workshop completion certificates and closing remarks of the workshop were by the Fijian Deputy Supervisor of Elections, Mr Michael Clancy. At the conclusion of the ceremony a song of farewell to the facilitators and PIANZEA delegates was delivered by the FEO officers at the workshop and staff of the Grand Pacific Hotel.