By GLORIA BAUAI
POLICE and election officials are recommending to whoever forms the next government to make the updating of the common roll a top priority well before the 2027 General Election.
They were concerned about the names of many registered voters missing from the Electoral Commission-updated common roll.
Assistant Police Commissioner Northern Region Peter Guiness blamed the disturbances during Monday’s polling on the many complaints on missing names.
“This created problems for everybody – both the security forces and election officials,” he said.
Election Manager Simon Soheke said the latest updating of the common roll in Morobe cost K3 million.
“We did our part in moving names and enrolled them. But the result (names on the common roll) during polling was totally different,” he said.
“Unfortunately, because ballot papers were supplied according to this roll, it caused inconvenience for voters throughout the province.”
He cited as an example the Koeki ward in Kome, Menyamya.
In 2017, there were 600 voters.
This year, it dropped to 298 voters.
“This is a huge drop. Though there has never been a perfect roll in past elections, still we as election administrators must try as much as possible to come up with a credible roll so people are satisfied,” he said.
“I have started my own investigations to find out whether our new system failed us or someone deliberately messed with the data.”
Lae’s Returning Officer Kusak Meluk blamed the Electoral Commission for the confusion which arose, describing it as “unfair to the voter’s democratic right”.
Soheke said administrators of the GE22 must do everything they could to “ensure a free, fair and safe election”.
“I’m appealing to the new government coming in to fund us early so we can begin the process of updating the roll and not wait until a year or six months before the next general election which (too late),” he said.
Use NID system to update roll: Former MP
FORMER Lae MP Bart Philemon has called on the Government to use the National Identification (NID) and Civil Registry system to update the common roll.
Philemon, whose name was not on the common roll when he went to cast his vote in Lae on Monday, said he could not believe that his name was missing.
He said he had been casting his vote and contesting the Lae Open seat in five general elections.
He couldn’t believe his name was not on the common roll for the first time in many years.
He told The National that the NID system should have the data on every Papua New Guinean.
“Based on that fact that common roll for election every five years, it should be updated using the NID,” he said.
He also found out when he went to Butibum East at 2pm on Monday that the polling station was closed after they ran out of ballot papers.
“How can they run out of ballot papers because they should have data about how many voted there the last time,” he said.
“I went to the Butibam community hall to check my name on the common roll but it was not there.
“The last time my sister went to vote, she also couldn’t find her name. She voted for me all the time I stood.
“My daughter also couldn’t find her name on the common roll at that time too.
“It is a basic democratic right for everyone to have their say every five years on who should represent them in Parliament. It’s so sad.
“I know it happens to ordinary Papua New Guineans everywhere and I never thought it would happen to me after being a MP four times.”
Councillor upset as voters turned away
By YVONNE KAMBIBEL
A WARD councillor is frustrated because she cannot do anything to help people who find out at the polling stations that their names are not on the common roll.
Councillor Helen Weana from Vesulogo, Koiari, Central said: “It’s frustrating for the people to arrive at the polling site only to find that they cannot vote because their names are not on the common roll.
“It’s a major disappointment on our part as councillors when we cannot do anything in our power to help our people in this situation.
At least 200 people from the ward had to be turned away.
Weana said in previous elections, councillors were allowed to use a Form 11 to help those whose names were not on the common roll to vote.