More than 606,000 Fijians are expected to head to the polls today to elect a new Parliament for a four-year term.
This is the country’s third election under the 2013 constitution and since the 2006 military coup.
In the race are 343 candidates from nine political parties and two independents vying for a seat in the 55-member Parliament.
Voting is taking place at 855 polling stations from 7.30am to 6pm Fiji time, or until after the last voter in the queue at 6pm has voted.
The Fijian Elections Office has announced that all voters will be provided free transport today.
Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem said a call centre had been set up for voters — it will be staffed by 40 personnel and operate between 7.30am and 6pm.
“There are 16 venues around the country that are not voting at the location we had previously advertised for various reasons, please take note of the new locations, we will be putting up big sign boards outside these venues. So it will direct you to the new location anyway,” Saneem said.
“We will also upload the the maps to the new places so that you are able to locate it in case you are trying to find out it will be available on the FTO Facebook page,” he said.
More than 90 observers from 16 countries and two regional organisations — the Pacific Islands Forum and the Melanesian Spearhead Group — will monitor polling, counting and tallying of the ballots.
In the lead-up to the election, the Multinational Observer Group (MOG) observed no irregularities.
The MOG said there were no significant issues that would prevent registered voters from casting their ballot during pre-polling, postal voting or on election day.
“I would like to acknowledge the statement received released by the multinational observer group in relation to tomorrow’s [Wednesday’s] election. And we look forward to the entire country [which] has waited for the last four years for this very important day,” Saneem said.
“Remember, decisions are made by those who turn up. If you do not turn up, do not complain. So ladies and gentlemen, from tomorrow [Wednesday], we’ll see you at 7.30am at any of our 1600 polling stations. Mark your ballot papers correctly and have your vote counted,” he said.
A total of 77,907 Fijians were registered to vote for pre-polling over the last week.
However, only 54,244 Fijians cast their votes.
Weather on voting day
Fiji is well into the cyclone season and as it has been raining heavily for periods over the weekend, it could affect voter turnout.
The 2018 election was heavily impacted by bad weather and Saneem said they were planning for the worst but hoping for the best.
- The blackout on campaigning, political advertising and media reporting of political issues, which started at midnight Fiji time on Sunday, will be lifted at the close of polling at 6pm today.