Start educating voters now


PROGRAMMES on educating voters so they are better informed on who to vote come the next national general election should start now.
Researchers say most people in rural Papua New Guinea usually cast their votes for the candidates they think is most likely to help them directly, help their families or their village.
Despite the much-published campaign to vote on party policies and look out for personal traits in a candidate, it’s obvious that the trend for localised or penalised benefits votes will continue this election.
A short-term project is to run programmes on educating voters.
A long-term project would be through quality education from our schools.
Many definitions of quality in education exist, testifying to the complexity and multifaceted nature of the concept. The issue of quality education should be addressed immediately by all concerned authorities so the next generation of voters or those voting in the next two elections understand what party policies mean, what to look out for in candidates and vote without fear or favour.
Relevant authorities and the public have spoken out airing their concerns on the trend of voting for localised or penalised benefit.
Those who were endorsed by political parties used the campaign period to outline their policies or platforms – what their party stands for and as individuals how they will deliver when they are elected into Parliament.
Then we have those who were running as independent candidates who had their target list of things to do when elected.
The majority of voters in this county are the rural majority, which means they will either be illiterate or semi-literate.
Most policies turn out to be similar with the ultimate target of delivering service to the people, which is really unfair in the rural areas as they make up between penalised voting and following what others like Transparency International, the Ombudsman Commission or even the Electoral Commission through the various awareness programmes.
The high number of informal votes could mean a lot, but the main reason would be the voter does not understand the voting system.
Despite the awareness of the limited preferential voting system, many still do not understand that this system allows three choices for the voter.
Understanding the counting rules will assist in understanding how a winner is determined and help voters cast their vote wisely.
The target is to ensure the number of informal votes gets lesser and that can be achieved through quality education.
Realistically, it will take more than just talking through awareness, seminars and road shows to achieve the change in mentality on this issue.
Like in previous editorials, the educated elites have the chance now to make a change – to reach out to the rural population and educate them on the electoral process.
Where reports from various independent observers were read and recommendations taken into account remains to be seen.
If there is no education, be rest assured the voting trend of casting votes for candidates who they think and know is mostly likely to help them directly, help their families or their village will happen again.
The trend will continue if nothing constructive is done.