The Fijian Elections Office (FEO) hosted and funded a 3-day BRIDGE Polling, Counting and Results module in Suva, Fiji on 10th, 11th and 12th April 2017. The participants for the workshop included one or two representatives of each of the registered political parties as well as eight private individuals who submitted an Expression of Interest to participate in the workshop.
The workshop was a further FEO response to the recommendation from the 2014 Fijian General Election Multinational Observer Group (MOG) that more comprehensive training be provided for party polling agents on their roles and responsibilities in the electoral process.
The BRIDGE facilitators for the workshop were Asenaca Kolinivala and Ana Mataiciwa from the FEO and Yvonne Goudie (consultant) and Brian Latham (consultant) from Australia. The facilitators together brought a broad range of experience, knowledge and expertise to the workshop.
Mr Mohammed Saneem, Supervisor of Elections (SoE), FEO, welcomed participants, facilitators and other guests to the workshop, giving a brief overview of the reasons the FEO was placing importance on this training and encouraging participants to engage with the program over the following three days. He explained that the FEO ran the workshop for the political parties so they could, in turn, inform and train their party agents.
The three-day program covered many of the essential elements of the polling, counting and results processes of elections, commonly with a specific examination of each as it pertained to the Fijian system. Again using the Fijian system, participants were involved in a mock vote, count and allocation of seats exercise run by FEO staff (including the SoE) and were given a demonstration of the verification, certification and declaration of results process, also by FEO staff.
Participants were actively engaged throughout the three days, showing a participatory approach and making many personal contributions to the various activities. There were many questions raised and discussions undertaken, creating a learning experience for all involved.
Participants comments were generally very positive and many indicated a gaining of knowledge and a better understanding of the processes examined.
After the BRIDGE and operational activities concluded, a lively Question and Answer forum was conducted by the SoE, FEO, Mr Mohammed Saneem.
The SoE then closed the workshop. He thanked the participants for their attendance and contributions and issued a Certificate of Completion to each.