More training of election officials needed after variations revealed of the Common Roll votes from several villages  

Variations in the provisional and final results reveal the need for more training of election officials, according to the Chief Electoral Officer

While it may seem a smooth running of the general elections last Saturday the final results issued on Monday by the Chief Electoral Officer Darren Tohovaka showed variations from the provisional results the people heard on Saturday night. 

The final results impacted on the placements with around 13 variations and affected the placements of four candidates. 

BCN News analysed the provisional results from Saturday and the final results issued on Monday and found that the variations were found in the Common Roll votes for the villages of Tuapa, Hikutavake, Mutalau, Lakepa and Makefu. 

The candidates most affected is Birtha Lisimoni Togahai who on Saturday night was recorded in a tie with Sonya Talagi both with 364 votes but after Monday, in the final results she had dropped from a tie at sixth placement to seventh. 

The results also changed the ranking for Ettie Pasene Mizziebo who dropped in ranking from 14th  to 13th, while Julie Talagi Funaki improved her ranking from 14th rank to 13th, because 10 votes were added on to Julie Talagi Funaki from the village of Makefu, that were not included in the provisional on Saturday night. 

Chief Electoral officer Darren Tohovaka told BCN News that there is always room for improvement acknowledging human error, when asked if the variations is an indication of the need for more training for the polling officials, especially the roles of Returning Officers.

 “I want to acknowledge also that as with anything there is always room for improvement and we acknowledge that certainly going forward, we can look at those issues around the counting of the votes and making sure that the votes as accurate as possible.

“Human error will come in, I acknowledge that and it’s not anything new, it’s happened in our elections over the many years and certainly I think we can look at that going forward and how we can improve the way that we do our processes with elections” said Darren Tohovaka.

Eight candidates lost at least one vote from the village of Tuapa after the recount. Fapoi Akesi, Emani Fakaotimanava Lui, Sinahemana Hekau, Birtha Lisimoni-Togahai, Billy Talagi, Sonya Talagi and Crossley Tatui lost one vote each from Tuapa, while Fisa Pihigia lost 2 votes. 

Five candidates lost votes from the village of Hikutavake at the final count, Sinahemana Hekau and Fisa Pihigia both lost 2 votes each, while Terry Coe, Emani Fakaotimanava Lui and Togia Sioneholo each lost one vote from Hikutavake. (Correction – Ettie Pasene-Mizziebo lost 2 votes from Hikutavake, NOT Fisa Pihigia)

Four candidates lost votes from the village of Mutalau. Birtha Lisimoni-Togahai lost 2 votes, while Sonya Talagi, Emani Fakaotimanava Lui and Terry Coe all lost one vote from Mutalau after final count. 

For the village of Lakepa, Togia Sioneholo gained 5 votes after final count but his ranking remained at 11th on the common roll ranking. 

Julie Talagi-Funaki gained 10 votes at the final count from the village of Makefu which changed her ranking from 14th to 13th. 

Tohovaka told BCN News that it is quite normal for variations after the recount and this has happened in previous elections but he assures the people that they can trust the electoral process is fair and as the leaders of the elections, they trust their officials.

“These are the officers that we have chosen, we have confidence in them. We trust them and it’s important that the people trust in the processes to ensure that our elections are fair and democratic and people look at them as being accurate results possible through the existing laws that we have,” said the Chief Electoral Officer Darren Tohovaka.

In the previous elections of May 2020, there were more variations of the provisional results from the final official count affecting the counts of seven villages, but the outcomes did not result in a change of the ranking of the common roll candidates.

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