By ZACHERY PER
COUNTING of votes for the Kandep by-election will start today in Goroka.
Of the 71 ballot boxes containing registered votes brought into Goroka for counting, 57 have been cleared for counting while 14 were disputed and set aside.
Scrutineers, who will represent each candidate in the counting room, met yesterday for a briefing.
Scrutineers for arch-rivals Don Polye and Alfred Manase disputed 14 ballot boxes and delivered separate statements to the Electoral Commission’s lawyers to deliberate on.
Mr Polye disputed eight boxes while Mr Manase disputed six.
The fate of these boxes would be decided by returning officer Poevare Torre after obtaining legal advice from the commission’s lawyers.
Polling for the rest houses of Savi (2), Muyan and Tarapis was cancelled due to security concerns.
An attempt to conduct re-polling over the weekend was also abandoned for the same reason.
Scrutineers of the 15 candidates were fully briefed on the counting, and will be present when the boxes are opened.
Counting was supposed to start yesterday, however, due to uncertainty over allowances and logistical arrangements and briefings, it was delayed to today.
Electoral Commission officials were adamant yesterday that counting would kick off today at the old Goroka Betting Shop under the leadership of acting returning officer Simon Simoi despite grievances over allowances.
Returning officer Mr Torre, who is in Port Moresby, is expected to return to Goroka during the week.
Counting will be done using the electronic counting system, which was used in the Madang by-election, Rai Coast, South Bougainville and Kandrian-Gloucester electorates.
Southern Highlands, Madang and Morobe polling officials will be involved in the counting.