Observers’ role crucial to better conduct of elections

National

ONE of the reasons observers are present during polling and counting is to recommend how future general elections can be better conducted.
Around 800 election observers, including 130 from overseas, will be observing polling and counting from Saturday.
United Nations Development Programme senior electoral expert Ray Kennedy, who is coordinating the observers, told The National they would be sent to various provinces.
“One of the functions of an observer is just to be present,” Kennedy said.
“Their presence should reduce the likelihood that people are going to be engaging in illegal behaviour.
“Observer presence also serves to increase the confidence of voters in the election, thereby increasing turnout.
“But to me, the most important function is to look at the situation and come up with reasonable recommendations of what can be done to improve future elections.
“There’s no such thing as a perfect election anywhere, anytime. But working together, we can all focus on making future elections better.”
Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato yesterday welcomed the observers.
“The total number of observers is around 800. (Around) 130 are international. Many of those are diplomats currently posted to Port Moresby,” he said.
Kennedy said the main international delegations were from the Commonwealth Observer Group, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and Melanesian Spearhead Group.
The primary domestic group is Transparency International (PNG).
“We also understand that the Australian National University delegation is a hybrid group,” Kennedy said.

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