3 visually impaired voted

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THREE visually impaired people were able to vote in the historic Bougainville Referendum on Friday, one day before official polling ended.
This followed a special arrangement made by the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) with the Bougainville Disabled Organisation (BDO) at the BRC regional office in Buka.
The BRC returning officer John Sisiesi said this was in response to news that Tarcisius Binna (one of the visually impaired) was not offered provisional voting despite enrolling because his name was not found on the referendum roll.
“This shouldn’t have happened and we’re sorry that it did,” Sisiesi said.
“This was a normal case of someone needing to be issued with a provisional vote – where they have enrolled, but their name is not on the referendum roll where they vote.”
Binna said he felt privileged to be given the chance to vote.
“Despite the issues at the polling place, I am very happy that I’ve been given this opportunity to exercise my democratic right, despite being a blind person,” he said.
Cathreen Sak Lasin and Maria Hagaa from Tonsu constituency were also assisted by officials and family members to cast their votes.
Chief referendum officer Mauricio Claudio apologised to Binna and his family and was grateful of the support of the chair of the BDO to bring the two women with disabilities to vote.
“In a few rare instances, we have seen this issue come up where people should have been issued with a provisional ballot,” he said.
“Unfortunately, it can be expected with the introduction of provisional voting for the first time in Bougainville or Papua New Guinea.
“It’s not an issue related to Binna’s disability.
“We’re happy now and this really shows BRC’s guiding principle of an inclusive process.”
Claudio said like all provisional votes, the names would be checked against the entire electronic referendum roll at the count centre before being admitted to the count.
“Provisional voting, postal voting and polling teams in every ward in Bougainville are just three of several ways that the BRC has tried to make this referendum as inclusive as possible for every voter to cast their ballot.”

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