As polling wraps up in parts of the country, New Ireland experienced a mostly peaceful polling period, beginning on Monday 5th July, in spite of bad weather, most ground officials performed diligently.
In Kavieng there was a slight delay with Kavieng Open Candidates petitioning against an extra 9,899 extra ballot papers outside of the legal ballot papers allocated for Kavieng. But the issue was swiftly resolved at the Kavieng Police Station and polling went ahead around 11am.
Incumbent Governor Sir Julius Chan didn’t waste any time, he cast his vote on Monday at Danmirik Primary school, ward 8 of the Matalai LLG.
In the central LLG, specifically Kasubio logging road, there were reports of a vehicle carrying ballot papers catching fire, but swift intervention by scrutineers for Byron Chan, John Merebo, James Siat and NA scrutineers helped to save the ballot boxes.
The general outlook from all polling locations throughout New Ireland was that there were too many eligible voter names not included in the Electoral rolls. “EC has a lot of catching up to do, and must consider local statistics derived from the village record book which was turned away by the EC,” said Sir J.
While Polling officials said the Electoral roll was an updated one to the 2017 roll, it was found that many voters that voted in 2017 could not find their names. There were also instances where names of the dead were still on the electoral roll. However others who registered their names to vote in the recent five years did find their names.
“I’m confused? I voted in 2017 and my name isn’t in this electoral roll. My right to vote has been deprived. The Electoral commission has five years to get things right, they should not have any excuses. Where does the huge funding go to? The Elections must be a priority,” said a disappointed Bruno Malazimba from Leon, Djaul Island.
Otherwise polling in New Ireland was held in true New Ireland fashion with coffee nights buzzing the night before polling to lift spirits and create a sort of calm and ease.
With counting set for next week, New Ireland Governor Sir Julius thanked all New Irelanders for the peaceful polling period, against showers, were great and urged the same spirit of cooperation for the counting period.
Counting for the Namatanai Open seat will take place at Stemper Hall, for Kavieng Open Peter ToRot Hall and for the Regional Seat Fisheries College.
“Had the EC listened to the Provincial Steering Committee and allowed the work put in by the Provincial Government and reached a legal understanding. One day polling would have gone well. It’s the EC, that has dragged New Ireland into the wrong direction, created uncertainties and frustrated the eligible voters. Depriving my people their rights,” said Sir J.
He said a full investigation of the EC should be undertaken. “It certainly had enough money to run a free and fair elections. This is the worst Elections since Independence. For future Elections the Provinces should be given full Autonomy to run their elections, since the EC continues to fail miserably.”