Electoral roll a major problem

Editorial

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill agrees that the electoral roll has been a major problem during this general election.
O’Neill, Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato, Registrar of Political Parties Dr Alphonse Gelu and the Commonwealth Observer Group agree that the problem stood out like a sore thumb during the 2017 general election.
Everyone is disappointed to read, hear and see that so many people were denied their right to elect their leaders in this election.
Most who voted in previous elections and who made the effort to take part in the updating process last year found themselves in a rather embarrassing situation when they were told their names were not on the roll.
Some put up an argument while others walked away disappointed knowing that their chance to exercise their right to vote has gone begging.
O’Neill says an investigation will be conducted into the Electoral Commission to find out why so many names were missing from the common roll.
Hopefully, the outcome to this investigation must be published so everyone knows.
While we wait for the investigation to start, whichever government is formed after this election, already has a task cut out for them – allocate funding to the Electoral Commission to reform the electoral process which should include a new system of voter registration and identification and strengthening the voting and counting processes.
Recommendations by the Commonwealth Observer Group must also be taken into consideration.
It points out that adequate expertise and funding required by the commission to create a credible roll should be provided in a timely manner before the next election.
Eligible voters must be allowed to exercise their democratic right and participate in their national election. It is observed that a key issue and challenge to this election has been the significant number of eligible voters whose names were not on the common roll.
The group was very disappointed to note that its previous highlighting the need to address this issue is yet to be implemented.
And we will hold Tari Pori MP James Marape to his promise to revamp the entire electoral system if he is again part of the Government.
All this is now history. But going forward, the commission should consider a form of personal ID that can be used to verify a person’s entitlement to vote.
This may include a tear-off stub that the voter can give to the polling official and in return receives ballot papers.
If an ID system is not implemented, the polling officials should at least have access to a roll for the entire electorate, listed alphabetically, and followed by a person’s locality.
This will enable people registered in the electorate to vote, irrespective of where in the electorate they turn up to vote.
We agree with Marape that come 2022, in a modern world, PNG should not get bogged down in legacy issues which should be addressed when the new government gets in.
We all hope these problems will fixed before 2022 so that everyone eligible to vote can do so.

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