By CLARISSA MOI
FORMER Moresby South MP Albert Karo and wife Mary rested in the shade before casting their vote at the Vabukori village polling venue, wondering why everything seems to be heading south in the General Election 2022.
Albert, 77, who was MP from 1992 to 1997, says: “The Electoral Commission has to make sure they do things properly before calling the next general election. General elections take place every five years. What have they been doing in the past five years?
Wife Mary adds: “Every eligible citizen has the opportunity to vote every five years and when their names are not on the common roll, it is very frustrating because some have to walk for miles to reach the polling station, only to find that their names missing.”
They joined the many people who are concerned, frustrated and angry over the way the GE22 has been planned and run.
Thousands of eligible voters have been deprived of their democratic right to elect leaders of their choice every five years because their names are missing from the common roll.
Albert, 77, from Hula, notes that his name is now listed in Kila Kila which is not his electorate. He was born at Manubada and had been living at Vabukori, where he voted in 2017 and in prior elections.
“ General elections take place every five years. What have they been doing in the last five years?”
Many whose names are missing had voted in 2017. Their names were on the common roll then. Now, the names have disappeared, for some reason
Some, such as Albert, now find their names listed in a different electorate altogether. Someone for some reason decided to change it.
“This is unbelievable. We have been voting in the past elections with our names on the common roll in our electorates. Why is it that it’s not on the common roll for this general election? Or why is it that it’s listed in another electorate?”
He heard from a village in Rigo, Central, that the names of 115 eligible voters were missing in the common roll, and had to be turned away by polling officials.
Karo notes that in the past, people were excited about general elections. They wore T-shirts bearing their candidate’s name, pinned up campaign posters at every visible point, organise feasts for supporters. But it is not the same this year.
Mary, 72, from Rigo, finds it hard to understand why the Electoral Commission and the Government could not make elections easier to manage and understand with the help of modern technology, better management and funding.
She warns that the frustration and confusion can only lead to more violence. The problem has to be nipped in the bud now.
Mary suggests that the Electoral Commission and the State should hand the responsibility of running elections to the provincial governments because they are closer to the people on the ground.
Citizens in their 70s such as Albert and Mary had voted in the 10 general elections since Independence. They were hoping that this year, the five-yearly national event would be better managed and easier to follow. Unfortunately, it seems to be heading in the wrong direction – south.
Albert adds: “The Electoral Commission has to do its job right or else the same thing will happen in every general election.”