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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 28) - All systems are set to go as almost four million eligible voters in Papua New Guinea start polling tomorrow in the national elections. Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen said yesterday the Electoral Commission and security forces were ready.

Electoral Commission records show 3,938,839 Papua New Guineans had enrolled to cast their votes when polling begins tomorrow and ends on July 10. Trawen said 7.9 million ballot papers had been printed and distributed to all the provinces. He said 2,759 candidates were vying for the 109 provincial and open electorate seats, including 101 women.

"There are 1478 Independent candidates which is almost two thirds of the total nominees," Trawen said. He said Northern Province had the highest number of candidates with 69 vying for the provincial seat and Manus provincial, Ialibu/Pangia and National Capital District had the lowest with seven each.

Trawen said there would be around 4,550 polling teams working in 9,100 polling booths throughout the country. A total of 27,000 will oversee the elections as polling officials.

He said these National Elections would be different from the past as the electoral rolls had been printed according to registered Voters in the wards. Voters have to be present in their wards where they are registered to vote.

"The fact is that the Electoral Commission has done away with the past idea where electoral rolls were printed according to the electorates," Trawen said. He said enough electoral rolls had been printed for the 6185 wards in the 323 local level governments in the country.

Trawen confirmed all the containers with the ballot boxes had arrived at their destinations except for Bougainville. He said 34 registered political parties are contesting the elections.

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