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Gamato explains ruling over disputed ballot boxes

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By HELEN TARAWA
IT is up to the electoral commissioner and returning officers to allow or disallow the counting of disputed ballot boxes, Patilias Gamato, pictured, says.
The commissioner said according to the Organic Law on National and Local-Level Government Elections, the decision by a returning officer “may not be challenged other than by way of a petition”.
Gamato was commenting on a video footage which had gone viral showing some men marking ballot papers at a place other than a polling booth.
Section 153 of the Organic Law states that a returning officer may refuse to admit to scrutinise a ballot box containing marked ballot papers where he is of the opinion that the papers in it were not lawfully cast or the box was tampered with and the integrity of the papers in it were compromised.
The law also states that if a ballot box is damaged, but its contents have not been disturbed, it is not to be rejected for the reason of damage. “The law is very clear that the returning officer has the discretion whether to allow or disallow the scrutiny of ballot papers in a disputed ballot box after taking into consideration all available evidence and reports,” the commissioner said.
It is believed that the area is somewhere in Jiwaka.
Gamato said a similar issue arose during counting for the Koroba-Lake Kopiago open seat in Hela.
“Any aggrieved party has the right to file any election petition only after the declaration of the result.”

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