More awareness on LPV needed


DESPITE the many awareness conducted on the limited preferential voting (LPV) system, many still do not understand how it works.
We can go all day through a loud hailer talking about the system but if the public do not fully understand it, then it is a concern.
Instead of waiting for 2022, awareness on LPV should take place to educate the people on how this voting system works.
Prior to LPV, PNG was using the old system of ‘majority voting’ also known as the ‘first-past-the-post’ where the voter puts a cross on a ballot paper next to their favoured candidate and the candidate with the most votes in the constituency wins.
That system had been used since independence until the 2002 National Elections where Papua New Guineans have been electing their leaders to represent them in the National Parliament and it was easy.
The parliament then amended the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections to provide for the introduction of LPV in national election.
In LPV, the voter is given an option to choose three candidates among the names on the ballot paper by placing the number “1” as the first preference, indicates the second preference with number “2” and the number “3” for the third preferred candidate.
In the LPV system, there are two distinct parts to counting votes.
The primary count is the first part.
This refers to the first preference vote or vote 1 that is counted first.
At the end of the primary count, they will determine if a candidate has received 50 per cent + 1 of the first preference votes to be declared the winner.
If a candidate does not secure the 50 per cent + 1 formal votes, then they go into the second part of the counting.
This is the elimination part where the candidate with the lowest number votes would be eliminated and the votes that he or she received would be redistributed to the remaining candidates according to the second and third preference votes.
After the first elimination and the redistribution of the votes of the excluded candidate, they will then determine if the redistributed votes have given a candidate 50 per cent + 1 of the formal votes.
If not, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is again eliminated and his or her votes are redistributed to the remaining candidates according to the second and third preferences.
This process continues until a winner is found and they say under this system a winner is always found.
However, some votes will run out of preferences, and these are called exhausted votes.
As more candidates are eliminated, the chances increase for more exhausted votes.
Understanding how LPV counting works brings to light a number of things.
In order for a candidate to stay in the running, they need the first preference votes as it is the primary vote.
All in all, second and third preference votes are as important as the first preference votes.
First preference votes get you in the running and second and third preference votes determine your win.
Much has been said about educating voters to be better informed about the voting system but the question of whether they really understand still remains.
With the low literacy rate, awareness should be conducted with a mock exercise involving the people.
Only then they will really grasp the LPV system.

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