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PNG Election Updates from Electoral Commissioner Gamato

Electoral Commission Patilias Gamato says polling is progressing across the country one week into the 14-day voting period despite unavoidable delays in some areas.
He said that today, more than three quarters of the 111 electorates had begun polling as scheduled with seven electorates finished and just over 10 per cent of electorates gazetted to commence later in the polling period.

“Voters across the country have shown resilience and discipline and they should be commended for that,” Mr. Gamato said.
He was speaking as voters in the National Capital District (NCD) went to the one-day polls in all three Open electorates and the NCD Provincial electorate today.
The Electoral Commissioner said: “As a country, Papua New Guinea faces unique challenges during election time – with difficult terrain, unpredictable weather conditions and a two-week polling period. It is a marathon task to hold elections here, but I will continue to deliver a free and fair 2017 National Election, as promised.”
Mr. Gamato said he had introduced several reforms following recommendations from the 2012 election. These reforms had yielded positive results over the past week, and include:
 Two lines for voters outside the polling station: one for men and one for women, persons with disabilities and the elderly – to prevent harassment or intimidation and promote inclusivity;
 Ballot papers with a significant number of security features – to prevent fraudulent voting;
 Inking of the small finger on the left hand – to avoid double voting;
 An innovative automated system to capture information and process payments of around 30,000 polling workers – to ensure fairness and limit polling delays due to non-payment of workers; and
 A modernization of the results system, involving computer tablets, an online verification system, and a results website, which will be progressively updated. This has been designed to increase transparency and efficiency.
“This year, each voter at the polling place receives one ballot paper for the Provincial electorate (colored blue) and one ballot paper for the Open electorate (colored yellow).”
“That is why there is twice the number of ballot papers of 10 million than registered voters of five million,” Mr. Gamato said.
The Commissioner added that PNGEC has worked diligently since 2015 updating the voter roll, adding that the data was cleansed, reviewed, and for the first time sent to provinces for display and verification.
“Many of the issues and challenges we are facing during this election are not new.”
“I have said before that reform cannot be implemented in a short space of time and requires a whole of government approach, including legislative changes,” he said.
The Commissioner urged the public to be patient during the counting process.
“Voters will be aware that the Limited Preferential Voting system used by PNG means that counting and tallying can be a slow process. This was the case in 2012 and in 2007.”
“The process needs to be conducted thoroughly and this means it cannot be rushed,” he said.
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