MOROBE elections manager Simon Soheke says voters will queue in two lanes to cast their ballots for General Election 2022 (GE22) from today.
“We have set up express and general lanes at polling stations where the express lanes will be for women, people living with disabilities, pregnant women, elderly people and breast-feeding mothers,” he said.
“In previous general elections, most of the time men dictated and women and others were left out.
“This is not going to happen in GE22.
“Those in the express lane can go straight to check their names and cast their ballots instead of having to stand in a long queue.
“We are making it easier for the marginalised population to exercise their electoral rights.”
Soheke said Returning Officers (ROs) and their assistants (AROs) would be training polling officials to administer the lanes.
“A total of 425 teams comprising 2,975 officials will be involved in polling starting today,” he said.
Each team will have seven officials with two ballot boxes; one each or the regional and open seat.
Soheke added that non-sensitive election materials like the ballot boxes, voting compartments and the stationery had been distributed to the districts near Lae since last Tuesday.
One-day polling for districts
The one-day polling for Lae Urban, Wampar Urban and Nawaeb Urban has been moved to today, says Morobe election manager Simon Soheke.
He said previously, polling for these urban centres was scheduled for tomorrow while rural electorates were scheduled over five days.
“Polling for the rest of Morobe will run from July 4-8,” he said.
“Lae, Wampar and Nawaeb Urban however will be for one-day, basically to avoid double voting.
“Because Lae is connected by highway to other provinces, we’ve had people voting in more than one electorate in past elections.
“This is illegal.
“Having one day for urban local level governments (LLGs) is also in consideration of our working population and to ensure services continue smoothly.
“For polling, our biggest concern is Lae because its boundary overlaps with parts of Nawaeb and Huon-Gulf.”
Nawaeb Urban’s Ward 1-10 will vote for Lae Open while, Ward 11-17 of Ahi LLG will vote for Nawaeb Open; Huon-Gulf’s Wampar Urban, which covers 5-Mile to 9-Mile and parts of
West Taraka and Igam Barracks will vote for Huon-Gulf Open, although situated in the city’s vicinity.
“This information must be clear enough so we don’t have confusion when it’s time to cast votes,” he said.
Soheke said officials would conduct a final awareness before polling process.
He said generally, Morobe was ready for the polling process.
“We are fortunate to have received all our materials,” he said.
“Funding which is the only hold-up should be cleared (by today) and our officials should be on their way into electorates.”
Morobe businesses urged to allow staff time to vote
The Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has advised its 245 member companies to respect their employee’s rights to vote.
This message was relayed in a memo issued by LCCI president John Byrne last Thursday informing business houses of the polling schedule for Lae open and the rest of the province.
Byrne said while businesses were not legally bound to allow their employees time off to vote, they had a moral and social obligation to do so.
“It is your staffs’ right and privilege to vote and you have to assume that they are registered voters,” he said.
Lae along with Wampar and Nawaeb Urban will have their one-day polling starting today.
Morobe election manager Simon Soheke said the one-day polling would also ensure minimal disruption to businesses and services.
He called on employers to allow their employees to choose their leader for the next Parliament.
He also said that the polling schedule for all districts had already been approved, and aligned with nearby provinces.
He also added that the ballot papers were already in the province and recorded by the provincial electoral commission and ready for distribution.
Morobe adjusts to shorter timeframe
By GLORIA BAUAI
POLLING teams in Morobe for this General Election 2022 (GE22) has increased to 425 teams compared to the 293 used in 2017, an official says.
Morobe election manager Simon Soheke said the main reason for this was due to the short timeframe for polling and counting.
He also said there was an increased number of polling booths to cater for the increased voter population, based on requests made by communities.
Soheke said polling across the country would run from July 4 to July 22 and counting would be from July 23-29 as per the PNG Electoral Commission’s schedule.
He said however, that Morobe had reduced its polling to five days (July 4-8), and increased its counting to two weeks to ensure the province returned writs on July 29.
“Just seven days to count is very short, so I’ve reduced our polling days so we can use the extra week meant for polling to count,” he said.
“We have at least 14 days.”
Soheke added that the province had also adopted a new strategy for counting where primary counting from all local level governments of an electorate would take place simultaneously.
“Previously, counting was centralised in a district but took place one LLG at a time,” he explained. “This strategy will be centralised into the districts but all LLG primary counting will take place at the same time.
“Primary counts should be done under two days, quality checking in a day, and straight into elimination which should give us roughly seven days to go through all electorates.
“They can then send regional boxes to Lae for regional elimination which should take another week.”
He said the strategy was introduced in Morobe during the Menyamya by-election, then in Bougainville and Goroka by-elections.
“The important thing the commission wants is to return all writs on time,” he said.