Bill for an Act to amend the Fiji Electoral Registration of Voters Act 2012 passed

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A Bill for an Act to amend the Electoral (Registration of Voters) Act 2012 was passed by the Fijian Parliament today despite strong opposition.

This means Section 2 of the Principal Act is amended in the definition of “residential address” by deleting “, including the province and division, provided however that he or she has lived there for a period of at least three months immediately before registration”.

It now requires a voter to state his or her full name as specified on his or her birth certificate and to also be accompanied by his or her birth certificate when applying for registration.

Also Section 4 of the Principal Act is amended by— (a) in subsection (2)—(i) in paragraph (a) after “name”, inserting “as specified on the applicant’s birth certificate”; (ii) in paragraph (h), deleting “and”; and (iii) deleting paragraph (i) and inserting the following new paragraphs—“(i) birth certificate; and (j) such other particulars as may be approved and published by the Supervisor.”

And after subsection (2A), inserting the following new subsection— “(2B) For the purposes of subsection (2)(a), if an applicant’s name on his or her birth certificate is not in the English alphabet, the applicant’s name on his or her certificate of registration or certificate of naturalisation, as the case may be, is deemed to be the applicant’s name on his or her birth certificate.”

Meanwhile,Fijian Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Government has removed the requirement of getting a deed poll done for married women using their husbands’ names.

“You simply go to the birth registration office,” he said during debate on the Electoral (Registration of Voters) (Amendment) Bill 2021.

“If, say for example, a woman who is married now and decides to adopt her husband’s name. All she simply has to do is go to the BDM (Births, Deaths, Marriages) office, say ‘I want to change my name’. They will register it, birth certificate will be given.”

He was responding to comments made by Opposition Whip Lynda Tabuya that the Bill would affect married women who make up “a very huge number of our population”.

Tabuya said the Bill would incur costs of up to $500(US$250) for married women who had used their husbands’ names to vote in the past two elections.

“This is being rushed,” she said.

“It should go back for consultation.

“Not only are they taking away the right of a married woman to use her married name to register and to vote, which is what she has been using in the form of her ID and all other IDs, it will also cost those that need to change their names if they choose not to use their name of the birth certificate,” she said.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS