Materials arrive in provinces

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ELECTION-sensitive materials, including ballot papers and boxes have slowly been arriving in provinces but there are concerns that eligible voters will be missing out.
While election managers for Southern Highlands, Madang, Manus and Bougainville had all noted a 15 per cent increase in enrolled voters, East Sepik election manager James Piapia had voiced concerns that a large group would be missing out because of a cap placed by the Electoral Commission (EC).
Attempts to reach Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai were unsuccessful, however, an official with the EC explained that due to lack of time and funding availability, updates could only be made to the existing 2017 roll database.
Based on a predicted annual population growth rate of three per cent of the last five years, common rolls updates would only focused on or account for 15 per cent of eligible voters, especially those that turned 18 when writs were issued this May.
Piapia told The National that he was positive that there were more voters recorded this year, but felt that the cap placed on only 15 per cent to enrol voters was insufficient to accurately capture the youth population in the province.
“When we were updating the common roll, there were insufficient enrolment papers to capture new eligible voters, so I don’t think people were too happy,” he said.
Piapia confirmed that they received 171 packages filled with ballot papers for the provincial and open seat on Tuesday and other materials like ballot boxes would arrive tomorrow.
Referring to the recent incident in Wewak, he said that the situation was now under control.
“We are all ready and set to go; all 28 assistant returning officers (AROs) were gazetted on Monday and trained for polling and counting last week so we’re just waiting on other materials to arrive and for our schedule to be gazetted by the EC,” Piapia said.
Madang election manager Sponsa Navi confirmed that he and his team received around 46,000 ballot papers on Tuesday with boxes to arrive by ship over the weekend.


Morobe will see over 2,000 officials conduct polling

Morobe election officials preparing ballot boxes to be used for polling starting on July 4. – Nationalpic by MALIKAI BALANDU

MORE than 2,000 polling officials are ready and looking forward to conduct polling after next week in Morobe’s 10 districts and 34 local level governments (LLGs).
Provincial election manager Simon Soheke said 2975 officials would be involved in polling starting July 4.
“There will be 425 polling teams with seven officials in each team,” he said.
Soheke said the teams would be sent to different wards and polling areas to conduct polling.
“They would be using different mode of transportation to reach polling areas, considering the challenges in communication, transportation, accessibility and geography,” he said.
“We have second plan and if officials need to walk, they’ll do so.
“Officials have agreed to walk, and we discussed to give incentives to those who would be walking to conduct polling.
“We will need chopper, but there are problems with choppers currently in the country.”
Soheke said the province was allocated four choppers to be shared with Eastern Highlands, Madang and Central.
“But this is not enough,” he said.
Soheke said the one-day polling for Lae and Wampar urban will be on Tuesday, July 5.
“We have planned for polling in all rural areas to be at least for five days,” he said.
“We’re going to start all our polling on July 4 and expect to complete by July 8.
“All ballot boxes are expect to arrive at respective districts and local level governments over the weekend.”
“We’re going to start counting the following Monday (July 11), depending on our reporting and preparations.
“Actually, polling will be for two weeks but we have planned to do a week polling so that will give us ample time for counting.”
Soheke said there were 436,450 eligible voters in the last update but they were expecting 476,000 people to vote in the province.


Bougainville focused on successful election

ELECTION manager for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville Justin Pantumari says they will be fully focused on successfully conducting General Election 2022 (GE22) even with unsettled bills from GE17.
Pantumari told The National that one of the biggest challenges he faced was that there were a few outstanding bills from service providers for the 2012 and 2017 GEs consecutively, which had not yet been addressed by the Electoral Commission (EC).
When asked if he had received funding, he confirmed that the first traunch of funding had arrived for polling and counting training for the 13 assistant returning officers (AROs).
“The AROs and ROs finished their training for polling and counting preparedness on Tuesday and now the AROs are training their presiding officers,” he said.
Pantumari noted that election sensitive materials, such as ballot papers and election kits would be arriving today with the boxes confirmed to arrive the following week Tuesday.
Polling in Bougainvilwle was to start on Monday, July 4, through to Friday, July 8, with 128 polling teams conducting polling throughout the 13 local level government wards.
“All AROs were gazetted on Monday and I have given them their gazette and instructions already, so we’re ready, we’re just waiting for the materials to arrive,” Pantumari said.


Hospital staff, patients may not vote: Molumi

THE staff and patients of Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) may not vote if facilities are not set up in the premises, an official says.
PMGH chief executive officer Dr Paki Molumi told The National that the 1,600 staff and 900 patients may be denied their rights to vote if the polling venue is not established at the hospital.
Molumi, in response to questions on whether staff and patients would be given time vote, said the PNG Electoral Commission (PNGEC) should have considered this.
“We cannot deny the rights of every citizen to vote including patients and staff on duty,” he said.
“PNGEC should have considered this and have a polling team set up at PMGH.”
Port Moresby General Hospital was the largest referral hospital that had about 900 patients from around the country.
Molumi said there were about 1,600 who could be denied their rights to vote if a polling booth was not set up at the hospital.
“The patients and my staff on duty will miss out on their constitutional right to vote in this one-day polling,” he said.
“I will formally write to the PNGEC to request that a polling team be stationed at the hospital.”
Meanwhile, Molumi has warned that the hospital management would not tolerate any general election related activities on or near the hospital premises.
In a circular this week, Molumi told the staff and residents that election related activities were prohibited within the PMGH premises.

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