Counting in the capital is underway with both Moresby North-East, Regional and South all kicking off but not without a little drama. Moresby South Returning Officer, Mr. Tau Toea admits that with counting for the seat underway, they have experienced a little bit of controversy.
“Well with what’s happening in the counting centre, I have scrutineers in here and as we are going through box by box, some boxes have been cleared, some returns done correctly by the Presiding Officers/Assistant Presiding Officers and some returns were not in an orderly or correct way which does not correspond to what the ballot papers are and those are some issues that have been a topic of debate with the scrutineers as we go through counting,” he said.
He said the 3 wards all have encountered similar situations where PO’s and APO’s had printed [Written] their initials on the back of the ballot papers and scrutineers disputing the papers for the formers reasons.
According to the RO, the scrutineers argued that the PO’s and APO’s should not have printed their initials on them but they should have signed, by which Mr. Toea disagreed.
“By law, according to the Electoral Commission and the organic law supported by the regulations that govern their conduct in the organic law of sect. 153, sub-sect.18.
That allows the presiding officer to print [Write] their signature or their initials on the back of the ballot paper,” he said. So far, the scrutineers are still not satisfied with that explanation and it is still an ongoing issue.
Aside from that, they have also crowded the entrance into the counting venue, demanding that everyone that enters the venue be searched from top to bottom and demanding people to not carry their mobile phones and wallets into the counting area.