24 Oct 2005

Low voter turnout in Fiji municipal elections no indicator for next year

4:14 pm on 24 October 2005

The low voter turnout at municipal elections in Fiji is not expected to be repeated in the general elections.

Only 20,000 people of the 70,000 registered, actually cast a vote at the weekend.

The chairman of the Electoral Commission, Graham Leung, says there is traditionally some apathy towards local government elections but he believes that people will turn out to vote in large numbers in the national polls next year.

Mr Leung says there has already been a door to door registration process for the general elections as well as the beginning of tv ads.

"Voter education is obviously a critical component of ensuring that as many people as possible cast valid votes. There's already a modest tv campaign running, basically urging voters to cast their ballot and I believe the Fiji Human Rights Commission is running advertisements."

Mr Leung says in past general elections, voter turnout has varied from 60 to 95 percent for different electorates, and he believes an average of 70 percent will be achieved again next year.