A VISITING MP from Uganda has described PNG’s voting system as corrupt, since most people do not cast their ballot in secrecy in general elections.
Ugandan parliamentarian Beatrice Lagada was taken aback when political analyst Dr Ray Anere told a seminar in Port Moresby yesterday that voting through the secret ballot was more of a principle than a practice in the country.
Stunned, she asked Dr Anere twice for confirmation.
Dr Anere, who is with the National Research Institute, confirmed that secret balloting was lacking in many electorates in many instances because of certain practices.
“Assistant voting, instances where voters are helped because of their lack of understanding of the system, has also been used by supporters of candidates to push for their candidates and has contributed to the lack of secret ballot on the part of many voters,” he said.
He agreed that the lack of secret ballot was a serious problem and
that the practice could deny women candidates the opportunity to get votes.
Later, in an interview with The National, Ms Lagada said PNG’s voting system was corrupt and that it needed immediate remedial action if women were to stand a chance to enter Parliament.
“Voting is really a very personal decision,” she said.
“One must not be forced to vote for a candidate they don’t want to vote for. That is corruption.
“The distance between the nearest person and where the ballot is being cast should be far enough for one not to determine or interfere with another person’s voting.”
She said it worried her to think that people could see a person filling out the ballot.
This was more so, she said, in a country such as PNG which was male-dominated.
“The chances of people voting independently would be even slimmer, making it all the more difficult for women,” she said.
“If you say you have the clan system where particular clans want to vote for particular persons, and you know that the clan is dominated by men, it will mean that the women are not making their own choices about the candidates.
“It would mean that the men are determining who the women vote for. So I think PNG must work really hard to clean up the voting system.
“People ought to be able to make independent decisions on who they want to vote for and that means the area in which voting is taking place must be secured so that other people don’t force other people to vote for their candidates instead of the person’s own choice.”
The three-day seminar at the Gateway Hotel was organised by the United Nations Development Programme.