Names missing on roll

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THE biggest hiccup across Morobe’s urban local level governments during their one-day polling yesterday was the outdated common roll, officials said.
Lae Open and Huon-Gulf returning officers (ROs) confirmed that about 50 per cent of the eligible voting population in Lae and Wampar urban electorates missed their only opportunity to vote yesterday.
Lae’s Kusak Meluk and Huon-Gulf’s Daniel Wasinak reported that names of many genuine residents, who had registered in the 2019 common roll update, were not found in the roll.
The story was the same in the city where the major problem was the common roll.
A woman from Banana Block at the Seven Street area said she voted in GE17, but was denied yesterday.
“We voted in the 2017 general election, now they said we have no name in the common roll, not only me but everyone here (Banana Block),” she said.
“How can we not choose our leader, we are citizens of this country.”
Tensions grew as the day progressed and settlers of the Banana block tried to protest but police were there to control the situation.
Northern divisional commander Assistant Police Commissioner Peter Guiness warned the settlers who were threatening to stone the council ward office at Seven Street.
“If you have your name in the common roll then, only then, you will vote, it’s the law,” he said.
“If you don’t have your name in the common roll then you will not vote.”
Meluk said many of the citizens even though they were registered they didn’t have their names on the common roll.
“It affected us, they said the common roll is updated – that is not true,” he said.
Wasinak said with ballot papers issued strictly according to ward registrations and distributed ward by ward, saw many missing out.
Both electorates reported that polling at sites started slowing down as early as 2pm.

Voting orderly in Butibam despite few ballot papers

A WARD in Lae district was given only 500 ballot papers, leaving three-quarters of its eligible voters unable to cast their votes as polling began in parts of the country yesterday.
According to Ward Three councillor for the Ahi local level government, Sonny Inum, while voting was orderly at two polling places in East Butibam, the ward had more than 2,000 voters.
“Our eligible voting population was well above the allocated ballot papers,” he said.
“We have two polling places in East Butibam – Agactu and Balob Teachers’ College.
“Some 2,000 eligible voters who have names on the common roll might not vote because of limited ballot papers.”
Inum said the people had been let down by the Electoral Commission and the Government.
“Voter enrolment must be done again properly to capture all eligible voters for future elections,” he said.
“They need to do that six months to a year before polling.
“It cannot be done within three months.”
Inum said this would give enrolment workers and councillors more time to help get all eligible voters registered. He said 300 papers were used at Agactu booth and 200 at Balob.
Lae returning officer Kusak Meruk said ballot papers were packed according to each ward by local level governments (LLGs).
“People just checked their names and voted.”
Community leader Michael Daure said polling at the village resource centre for West Butibam also went well.
“People came in the morning and formed lines,” he said.
“They listened to polling officials and voting went well.”
Daure said the only problem was the electoral roll. “The roll looked like it was from 10 years ago, it does not have names of those who are in their 20s,” he said.
“It looked like it was not updated.
“Some people were not happy, but it was contained.”

Polling pushed back due to training

TEWAI-Siassi in Morobe will go into polling tomorrow after the training today involving polling officials, briefing of scrutineers and candidates says an official.
Returning officer (RO) for the district Lancelot Kamake said they had 20 teams which would be deployed to the respective locations today after the briefing.
Yesterday, Kamake and some officials escorted the polling materials by boat from Lae to Finschhafen and will travel by road to Sialum where the district headquarters is located.
“The district will go to polls late because of the delay that we experienced over the past weeks,” he
Kamake said as of yesterday, security personnels that were to be deployed to Kabwum and Tewai Siassi were stranded at Gagidu town in Finschhafen after they were faced with logistical support.
“The security personnel were supposed to be in their designated locations earlier but were delayed at Gagidu as there were no transportation available to take them to their destinations,” he said.
Kamake said polling materials, including ballot papers that his team and himself brought from Lae, were also off-loaded in Gagidu for some hours before being transported by road from Gagidu to Sialum in Tewai-Siassi.
“After the briefing at the district headquarters in Sialum, teams will be sent to polling sites early today to cover Siassi Islands, Sialum and Wasu local level government areas respectively.
“This is where transportation will be much needed to get the ballot papers, boxes and other polling materials into those islands.”

Morobe records few disruptions during one-day polling

WHILE parts of Lae recorded peaceful polling yesterday, a handful of wards reported commotions for the one-day polling.
The National noted that much of the commotions took place in the earlier part of the day, mostly due to missing names on the common roll and concerns with polling venues.
Ricky Lewong, a community leader at Ward One’s Kapiak Street was upset that the extra polling booth allowed for his community was set up within the Markham Road Primary School field.
“In the past, there had been conflicts and fighting when we were all combined so I requested through a letter specifically to Morobe election manager Simon Soheke to create a separate polling booth for the three sections of Kapiak Street,” he said.
“We wanted it in our community to allow for our elderly and our women to vote freely, without any intimidation and harassment.
Across the city however, separate queues were created for men and women, an “invisible express lane” for persons living with disabilities, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers or men with children and the elderly folk, according to Soheke.
In the meantime, United Church’s Rev Boanere Vai, of Lae Ward Three at Milford Haven, Papuan Compound confirmed an attack on a media personnel.
Vai said it was a confusion with no proper identification and apologised on behalf of his community.

Voters confused and worried over incorrect electorate name

A NUMBER of Nawaeb urban local level government voters in Morobe were confused and worried about casting their votes yesterday because the electorate name printed on the ballot papers was not correct.
Voters found out that the electorate name on the ballot papers were printed “Lae” and not “Nawaeb”.
This caused confusion among voters in all wards in the LLG.
In the Nawaeb urban LLG of ward 14 (Limki), voters burned some new ballot papers because
of the confusion.
Assisting returning officer (ARO) Tawasa Nasinom said: “The voters burned some new ballot papers, but the cast ballot papers were taken back to the office.”
Nasinom said with the advice
of the provincial election manager, Simon Soheke, they moved the
cast ballot papers to the office.
He said they were also advised to cancel the polling.
“We told the voters of ward 14 to go look for a polling booth nearby and check for their names there and cast their votes,” he said.
“This polling booth will be cancelled and closed.”
“It is a one-day poll in Lae city, and we are trying our best to make it a safe, fair and free election,
but people just won’t listen.
“We’ve already explained to the people that the electorate name
on the paper is not an issue.
“The electorate serial number
is on the box therefore, it is not illegal.
“The paper is legal and people can cast their votes because the serial numbers are printed on the papers where it will identify the electorate.”
Meanwhile, the other wards of Nawaeb urban LLG, after the hiccups proceeded to cast their votes peacefully.