Bougainville Referendum Commission starts scrutiny process


THE Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) has started the scrutiny process which is the last step of the Bougainville Referendum on Saturday.
On Saturday morning, nearly 100 observers, scrutineers and media received their final briefing on the scrutiny process so that they were clear about their roles and responsibilities in ensuring the process would be transparent and credible.
All ballot boxes and materials had been received, checked and registered at the BRC counting centre as the polling officially ended on Saturday afternoon.
The count centre will operate 24 hours a day with staff working in three shifts of eight hours.
The BRC had previously agreed that it will make a single announcement of the result once it is complete and not release a progressive count.
Chief referendum officer Mauricio Claudio said all were to be congratulated for the ongoing peaceful environment and engagement in the process.
“The BRC is ready, our staff are trained and are ready to do their job with accuracy and transparency,” Claudio said.
“We’ll complete this final stage as quickly as possible, but as slowly as is necessary to ensure everything is by the book and allows the scrutiny of observers, scrutineers and the media.”
Claudio said over the next few days 249 ballot boxes would be opened with verification of seals and materials against Referendum Journal – already completed and checked by presiding officers and assistant returning officers at the regional centres.
“Only after we are absolutely sure that we have the correct number of used, unused and spoilt ballot papers will mixing of all ballot papers take place and the counting begins,” Claudio said.
“This is best international practice to ensure the secrecy of votes.
“People are excited, and there is an atmosphere of peaceful anticipation.
“We know that people have waited 20 years for this vote.”