The National, Tuesday 24th January 2012
By YVONNE HAIP
MULTIPLE polling booths in a single council ward will encourage “foul play” during voting, community leaders from the Mt Hagen open electorate in Western Highlands say.
They are urging the Electoral Commission to allocate one polling booth each for all council wards in the district to minimise cheating during polling.
Spokesman Timbi Kumbamong said previously there had been more than two polling booths in many council wards and that encouraged malpractices.
He said there was already evidence of names deliberately removed from the electoral rolls by factions that planned on cheating during the elections.
He said these “removed” names were then listed separately to form another polling booth where votes were illegally cast in favour of a particular candidate.
He said this had been the norm through the years and could only be stopped if the Electoral Commission ensured there was only one polling booth per council ward.
Kumbamong called for the names of all eligible voters to be listed in the common roll and made available for public viewing.
He claimed he had checked his Kelam council ward list and was surprised to see that many names had been removed.
He said the same had been done in other wards where the names of entire families had not been listed.
He claimed those were then transferred to the “new polling booths”.
He said although this had been happening in Mt Hagen for many years, the Electoral Commission had not looked at finding ways to resolve the issue.
He said if the Electoral Commission was serious about conducting free and fair elections, allocating one polling booth for each of the 52 council wards in Mt Hagen was the way forward.
He called on the Electoral Commission to look into this and ensure that the Hagen open MP voted in this year was truly the people’s choice and not a leader who won through fake voters.