A Facebook user has claimed a technical glitch that plagued election night in Fiji was a breach of the country’s Electoral Act.
As the Act was breached, a court must order a recount, the Facebook user said.
However, the claim is false. Experts have told AAP FactCheck the glitch does not amount to a breach of Fiji’s Electoral Act.
The post (screenshot here), which was made on December 15, reads: “The Electoral Act (Act) provides for counting to be uninterrupted once counting starts so any so called “glitch” is a breach of the Act and the Court must allow a manual recount.
“All opposition parties must stand together on this one.”
However, experts told AAP FactCheck the claim is false and that the glitch does not amount to a breach of the Electoral Act.
Social media users expressed concerns about the results and the integrity of the counting process (examples here, here, here and here). Some Fijian political leaders also asked for military intervention as a result of the interruption.
But experts and the FEO said the glitch did not interrupt the counting of votes – just the communication of results.
The Act states “the presiding officer must proceed continually with the counting of votes until the count is complete”. It does not make any reference to the FEO Results App.
“The count IS done manually. The ‘glitch’ that occurred on Wednesday night/Thursday morning was in the system that publicly released the data,” he said in an email.
The FEO said technical difficulties were caused by a failed data transfer, which led to some votes being incorrectly allocated to candidates.
The FEO told AAP FactCheck that while issues with the app were being rectified, the manual counting of ballots did not stop.
“The manual counts continued and results were updated on the Results Management System. This is why after the app was fixed, the numbers were higher,” Mohammed Saneem, supervisor of elections at the FEO, said in an email.
People’s Alliance party leader Sitiveni Rabuka had been ahead of incumbent Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and his FijiFirst party before the glitch. When the app came back online after a number of hours, their positions had switched.
Although the glitch did not breach the Electoral Act, Prof Fraenkel said concerns around the counting process are valid.
“It’s no surprise the opposition cried ‘foul’. Similar reactions would have occurred in other countries,” he said.
On December 20, 2022 it was announced Sitiveni Rabuka would become the new Prime Minister of Fiji. He will lead a three-party coalition between People’s Alliance, Social Liberal Democratic Party and the National Federation Party.
The claim that a technical glitch that occurred on the night of Fiji’s election breached the country’s Electoral Act and should therefore result in a recount is false.
Experts and the FEO confirmed the count was done manually and that counting was uninterrupted. The glitch caused a temporary interruption in the communication of results to the public.
False — The claim is inaccurate.