Weather, disputed boxes affect counting

National

Reports by PETER WARI
BAD weather is one of the many factors contributing to the slow counting in Southern Highlands, provincial election manager David Wakias says.
Wakias said rain has affected the makeshift tents being used for counting.
Apart from that poor decisions by returning officers and assistant returning officers as well as constant power failures have contributed to the slow progress in vote counting, he said.
Another major problem was disputed ballot boxes.
“Returning officers are not firm in their decisions; that is why many problems have arisen since counting started. Once information gets out on the streets, the public are reacting to the decisions and have created chaos which has delayed the counting.”
Wakias said the Electoral Commission has appointed the returning and assistant returning officers and he was looking after the administrative work and assisting them.
“I am only seeking advice from the Electoral Commission to intervene and make decisions.
“But the Electoral Commission’s decision is clear; it has appointed returning officers and will support and listen to them based on reports whether to set the boxes aside or go ahead with counting.
“We also have lawyers on the ground and will be seeking advice from them. If there is good evidence for the disputed boxes, then we put aside the disputed boxes.”
Wakias said since counting started, his officers have received threatening words and if they conducted night counting, the situation would be worse.
“During the day, it is more transparent and people will be happy but counting in the night will raise many questions and false accusations and that’s the problem we are facing,” he said.

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